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Kobe Steel starts up Japan's largest compressor test facility

Aims to make inroads in the large-capacity centrifugal compressor market

February 17, 2010

TOKYO, February 17, 2010 - Kobe Steel, Ltd. announces that its new large-capacity compressor test facility has begun operations at the company's Takasago Works in Hyogo Prefecture in western Japan.

Test facilities are essential to confirm the mechanical stability and design performance of compressors, a major product of Kobe Steel's Machinery segment. The new 4-billion-yen (US$44 million) facility, the biggest in Japan, will be able to test large-capacity process gas compressors with variable-speed motors rated up to 20,000 kilowatts. The new facility doubles Kobe Steel's testing capacity. Construction began in April 2008.

The start-up of the test facility enables Kobe Steel to develop the global market including the United States, Europe, China and the Middle East. Kobe Steel is making a full entry into the integrally geared centrifugal compressor market, where there are many promising projects. Kobe Steel estimates that it has a 10% share of the world market, which it aims to hike to 20% by fiscal 2012. It also plans to increase its market share of large-capacity screw and reciprocating compressors.

Kobe Steel forecasts that its compressor business will post record sales of 74 billion yen in fiscal 2009, ending in March 2010. The company anticipates sales will steadily grow in fiscal 2010. Focusing on standard compressors for energy savings and environmentally friendly applications; a broader menu for the process-gas and large-capacity compressor fields; and a strengthening of its production capabilities; Kobe Steel forecasts that its compressor sales may grow to 100 billion yen in the next four to five years.

In 1915, Kobe Steel began production of Japan's first reciprocating compressor. Over the years, the company added screw and centrifugal compressors, as well as refrigeration compressors and heat pumps. Kobe Steel currently makes a wide variety of compressors with motor ratings ranging from 1.5 kilowatts to several tens of thousands of kilowatts. Kobe Steel is Japan's biggest comprehensive manufacturer of compressors. Even worldwide there are only a few companies like Kobe Steel.

Screw, centrifugal and reciprocating compressors in particular are used in process-gas applications for manufacturing. For all three types of compressors, users give top marks to Kobe Steel. Kobe Steel's compressors are used in a wide variety of applications. Some examples are process gas for petrochemical and oil refining plants; associated gas for oil and gas drilling; natural gas and fuel gas for power generation; and blast furnace byproduct gas at steel plants. In addition, for energy savings at plants and new applications for CO2 reduction systems, Kobe Steel's compressors offer some of the world's top levels of high performance, high flow rate, and high pressure.
Compression Method and Major Uses of Process Gas
Market Share
Compression Method Major Uses
Screw 40% world share Uses twin helical rotors. Associated gas supply for oil and gas drilling, power generation equipment
(gas supply for power generation fuel)
10% world share
(integrally geared type)
Uses the centrifugal force from an impeller and the dynamic lift from the blades. Air supply for plants, air separation applications
(oxygen and nitrogen separation, manufacturing),
Reciprocating 10% world share Uses the reciprocating action of a piston in a cylinder. Oil refining, LNG bases (manufacture of petroleum products & natural gas supply)

Large-capacity centrifugal compressor at new test facility   Large-capacity centrifugal compressor and motor (at left) under test run
Large-capacity centrifugal compressor at new test facility   Large-capacity centrifugal compressor and motor (at left) under test run