Industrial Uses of Argon
The uses of argon span various industries and applications, including welding, metal manufacturing, electronics, lighting, scientific research, medical procedures, and food preservation.
1. Argon Plasma Torch
An argon plasma torch, also known as an argon plasma jet or argon plasma source, is a device that generates a high-temperature plasma using argon gas. Plasma is often referred to as the fourth state of matter and is created when a gas is heated to extremely high temperatures or subjected to a strong electromagnetic field. In the case of an argon plasma torch, the gas used is argon.
The argon plasma torch electrically charges hazardous dust particles, converting them into molten scrap at a temperature of 10,000°C.
Argon plasma torches find applications in various fields, including material processing, surface treatment, and spectroscopic analysis. The high temperature and reactivity of the plasma make it useful for tasks such as cutting, welding, surface cleaning, and deposition of thin films.
2. Shield Gas for Welding
High temperatures are essential for metal welding, but they can lead to unwanted reactions between the metal and atmospheric elements, causing the formation of undesirable byproducts.
In order to address this concern, welders employ inert gases like Argon to stabilize the welding process and prevent contamination. Argon finds widespread use as a shielding gas in welding and serves as the foundation for specific gas mixtures.
Welders often combine a small amount of CO2 with Argon, as this mixture ensures consistent quality and yields a cleaner finish when cutting carbon steel.
When dealing with thinner metals such as aluminum (Al), titanium (Ti), and magnesium (Mg), welders rely on pure Argon due to its low heat conductivity.
The incorporation of inert gases, notably Argon, during welding ensures process stability, reduces contamination, and facilitates the attainment of desired outcomes in terms of quality and surface finish.
3. 3D Printing
The 3D printer needs an inert environment. Argon gas provides the same and prevents the undesired reactions to maintain the purity of components.
The 3D printing machine’s inert atmosphere keeps the oxygen concentration low, reducing oxidization in the created object.
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4. Heat Treatment
The technique of heat treating metal to achieve desired mechanical properties involves heating the metal below its melting point and subsequently controlling the cooling process. An inert environment is created using Argon, which is supplied with a dew point of less than -75°F and an oxygen level of less than 20 ppm. Heat treatment techniques such as annealing, brazing, and sintering can greatly benefit from the presence of an Argon atmosphere.
5. The Chip’s packet: Storage
Argon can also be used instead of using nitrogen to preserve the chips. Argon’s density and size make it ideal for inerting.
Argon is eight times more efficient than Nitrogen in lipids or water because it allows oxygen extraction when it solubilizes.
It is an excellent respiratory enzyme inhibitor due to its similarity in polarity and potential for ionization to oxygen.
6. Uses of argon gas in Steel Manufacturing
The Argon Oxygen Decarburization (AOD) process is employed in the decarburization of stainless steel and special alloys like silicon steel. In this process, argon gas is utilized to prevent unwanted oxidation by diluting the essential elements. By introducing argon gas, the concentration of oxygen is reduced, minimizing the risk of excessive oxidation and ensuring the desired composition and properties of the steel or alloy are maintained. This controlled environment helps achieve precise decarburization and the production of high-quality stainless steel and special alloy products.
7. Titanium Fabrication
Ti is used in many sectors. Titanium is highly sought after because of its corrosion resistance and high strength-to-density ratio.
In the final stage of titanium production, the molten metal Ti must be exposed to an atmosphere rich in Argon gas to avoid interacting with other gases, such as CO2 and O2, in the surrounding environment.
Even in an atmosphere rich in argon, a thin layer of titanium oxide is formed on the metal. This thin layer stops further oxidation. Once it is cooled, Ti can be used for most purposes.
8. Tires for Luxury Cars
Tires of high-end cars are filled with argon gas. Gas protects the rubber from oxygen attacks and reduces tyre noise when the car moves at high speed.
Uses of Argon Gas in a Wide Range of Applications to Drive Market Growth
Argon gas is formed by fractional distillation by extracting it from liquid air in a cryogenic air separation unit and exists as charged ion molecules. It is a noble gas and, therefore, is considered an essential gas due to its wide range of applications across various industries, which is helping to increase the demand for this gas and driving market growth.
Argon gas is majorly used in the metal fabrication sector for shielding metals from oxidation during welding because of its properties like non-toxic, non-flammability, non-reactive under extreme temperature conditions, and many others, due to which the demand for this gas is increasing in this industry. Metal fabrication is a subsector of the manufacturing industry and is linked with many other industries such as pharmaceuticals, food and beverages, automotive, aerospace, energy, construction, shipbuilding, etc.
Metal fabrication has boosted the use of this gas in the steel industry, which is continuously booming in all sectors across the globe. The figure below shows the use of steel in different sectors in 2018 (%).
Use of Steel, In Different Sectors, 2018
Argon gas usage
In addition, it is also used on a large scale in solar and insulated windows to increase the energy efficiency and general performance of these windows, which is increasing its demand in this sector and driving the market growth. Furthermore, it is used in excimer lasers and fluorine and helium, which produce microelectronic devices. It is also used in incandescent lamps and phosphorescent tubes, propelling its demand due to the increasing number of malls, shopping complexes, hotels, etc.
Moreover, argon gas finds its applications in a variety of other purposes as well, such as in the manufacturing of titanium and other reactive elements as a non-reactive blanket, for growing silicon as well as germanium crystals as a protective atmosphere, for filling the dry suits that are used for scuba diving, and as a filler gas in fire extinguishers and airbag inflation which are the factors responsible for the growth of this market.