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Praxair gets $1 million state grant

Praxair Inc. is getting a $1 million grant from New York State for an expansion project that will allow the company’s plant in Niagara Falls to increase its production of liquid hydrogen by 50 percent, state officials said Thursday.

The project is not expected to create any new jobs at the Royal Avenue plant, but company officials said the expansion in production capacity will help Praxair meet the growing demand for hydrogen throughout the Northeast and the Midwest, as well as in southeastern Canada.

“This investment further diversifies our sources of hydrogen and results in distribution savings,” said Jeff Barnhard, vice president of Praxair’s industrial gases business in the U.S. East region.

Two nearby chemical facilities currently sell Praxair the hydrogen gas they produce as a byproduct of their operations. The Praxair facility then removes impurities and liquefies it through an energy-intensive process that cools and compresses the gas.

The liquid hydrogen then is delivered by customized trucks to customers that use it in the manufacturing of products such as metals, lubricants, glass, liquid fuels, solar technology, chemicals and food products.

The state grant will help pay for the construction of a steam methane reformer that will increase the supply of hydrogen to the plant, which also receives low-cost hydropower from the nearby Niagara Power Project. The expansion is expected to be completed next year.

“Praxair’s commitment to the region is to be commended, and it is a great example of how low-cost, locally produced hydropower can help our businesses and our economy grow,” said State Sen. George Maziarz, R-Newfane.