Major industrial gas company Linde PLC (NYSE: LIN) is planning to invest $600 million for a plant to support the massive Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. facility in Phoenix.
Last fall, the company announced it had signed a long-term deal with TSMC for the supply of industrial gases to the $12 billion manufacturing facility in north Phoenix generally located on the southwest corner of 43rd Avenue and Dove Valley Road.
The company presented its initial plans to the city of Phoenix as “Project Sparkling Expansion Project” in January 2020 and said its first plants and supporting infrastructure are expected to start in the second half of 2022.
Linde said it will build, own and operate a complex of on-site plants to supply ultra-high-purity nitrogen, oxygen and argon to TSMC.
“These plants are designed to meet the most stringent requirements of the semiconductor industry while maintaining world-class reliability and operating efficiency,” Linde said in a statement in September.
The city of Phoenix declined to comment on the project. Linde did not immediately respond to a request for comment. City documents listed Linde Inc. as the developer and Archicon Architecture & Interiors LC as the architect of the project.
According to APS, which recently worked to relocate three major sets of transmission lines for TSMC, the city of Phoenix is contributing $205 million for infrastructure improvements to the area, while the TSMC project is expected to result in a $38 billion economic output over the next 20 years.
Behind the deal
In January 2020, Linde Inc., the successor company to the 2019 merger of Praxair Inc. and Linde PLC, proposed its expansion into Arizona with a new facility to produce liquid and gaseous nitrogen, oxygen and argon and compressed dry air.
In an application submitted to the city of Phoenix, Linde said it was proposing to install facilities producing multiple on-site production plants producing gaseous nitrogen, oxygen and argon, as well as simultaneously producing liquid nitrogen, oxygen and argon.
The process, according to Linde, requires few buildings and will total less than 20,000 square feet. While the project is capital and electricity intensive, it will only employ 14 plant employees and 14 truck drivers, documents from 2020 said.
The gas products will be supplied to the TSMC factory, while the liquid products will be distributed via truck to the Phoenix metro market customers and nearby states, project documents obtained by the Business Journal said. Linde’s customers include hospitals, food processors, electronics, primary metals, energy, chemicals and aerospace industries, among others.
Gas products are immediately sent to pipelines and onto TSMC, while the liquid product will be stored in two to three large storage tanks depending on the product, documents said. In addition, Linde said the produced liquid products will periodically be pumped from the storage tanks and fed through atmospheric vaporizers to convert liquid to gas.
The company said it anticipates building two air separation plants, which includes a distillation tower that’s about 15 feet in diameter and reaches a maximum height of 120 feet for one plant and 165 feet for the other. The air separation process, which separates nitrogen, oxygen and argon by cooling them down, “is the most electricity intensive process known to man,” documents said.
“We consume 25 times the amount of electricity of a normal industrial customer and are often one of the top 20 customers of the associated electric utility,” documents added.
Other features that support TSMC’s factory outside of the gas plant include approximately 8,000 feet of pipelines installed in a pipe trench, 11,500 feet of underground 230-kilovolt transmission duct bank and filtration and purification equipment installed and owned by Linde on the second floor of TSMC’s CUP building, documents said.
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