Linde Praxair Merger Leaking Gas

The Linde-Praxair deal is suddenly up in the air again; Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer proposes bringing back the draft; and pondering the age of killer drones. Our Daily Briefing for August 6, 2018.

Wolfgang Reitzle, one of Germany’s most recognizable corporate moguls with his trademark pencil mustache, must be furious. He’s been working so long and so hard to push through the merger of his life, between the Munich-based Linde and the American Praxair. But now America’s trustbusters at the Federal Trade Commission are throwing a wrench in his works. If Linde and Praxair merged, the combined firm would be the world’s largest maker of industrial gases. Those are gases from argon to oxygen that are used in farms, fisheries and factories. Linde, for instance, makes the nitrogen and helium systems that cool the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. Reitzle sees the merger as the signature achievement of his career. That’s why, as chairman of Linde’s supervisory board, he has been pushing it against the resistance of workers’ representatives. To appease anti-cartel watchdogs in America and Europe, Linde and Praxair have also already agreed to sell off certain assets. So the FTC’s new demands for additional divestments, even before the merger takes effect, come as a shock. They even cast doubt on the whole deal. Linde and Praxair have set certain thresholds at which they might walk away from a merger – if they are forced by trustbusters to give up more than $3.7 billion in revenues, or 1.1 billion in profits. They also have a deadline of October 24 when all signatures have to be on the table. It’s hard to sell huge assets that fast. Insiders suspect that this is another case of Donald Trump’s “America First.” Four out of the FTC’s five commissioners came into the job only this year, picked by Trump. Maybe they’re upset that the merged firm would be called Linde, while the Praxair name would disappear, and that it would be run geographically out of Europe, even if American managers would get most of the say. Ironically, Reitzle’s deal was originally criticized in Germany as selling out German interests. All those worrywarts in the US and Germany can’t be right at the same time. Maybe it’s time to heed the old lessons of classical liberalism: Unless governments have a really, really good reason to interfere in business, they should get out of the way. Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, better known as AKK, has the same job today that Angela Merkel held between 1998 and 2000. Like Merkel then, AKK is secretary general of the Christian Democratic Union. Merkel used that perch as her launching pad to become CDU chairman, opposition leader and then chancellor. That is also why she gave the job to AKK. The chancellor is grooming Kramp-Karrenbauer, a religious but pragmatic and centrist woman, and thus a mini-Merkel, to succeed her one day. How does one do that as secretary general (basically, manager) of the CDU? By travelling a lot to meet the local cadres and building a base of support. And by floating political trial balloons. AKK just set one off. She wants to reintroduce conscription. Germany under Merkel got rid of the army draft in 2011. Now Donald Trump and other NATO allies want Germany to spend more on defense. But that’s not why AKK wants the draft back. She wants it as a tool to forge more social cohesion in a society that is becoming fragmented and atomized. Polls show that this is popular with a majority of Germans, especially on the conservative right. AKK envisions both men and women doing duty, and duty could take the non-military form of social service, such as care for the elderly. The opposition, oddly united from the far (ex-communist) Left to the pro-business FDP, is smelling a rat. Is this supposed to be a backdoor way of dealing with Germany’s labor shortage, especially in nursing homes? The way to address that problem is to pay workers there better wages, so that more people apply, says the Left. Forcing young people into a year of serfdom is unconstitutional, adds the FDP. AKK may have to float a few more trial balloons before she is ready for prime time. Did we just witness the first drone attack on live television? Nicolas Maduro, president of Venezuela, which is fast turning into a failed state, was giving a speech over the weekend, when suddenly, in the sky, … well, what exactly? Here is what we all saw and heard on television: some blasts, and then the rush of Maduro’s bodyguards covering him with shields, while soldiers started running for cover. With suspicious swiftness, Maduro only hours later claimed to know what had happened: His domestic enemies, (accursed rightists all), probably supported by neighboring Colombia (and who knows what the US was up to?), had tried to kill him with armed drones blasting out of the air. Other observers are much less sure. Perhaps some gas tanks had exploded nearby. Or perhaps Maduro staged the whole thing to be able now to crack down. Leave all that to the Venezuelans to figure out. More interesting, and more worrying, is the demonstration effect. Of course, there will in future be armed drones, even outside of war zones. Drones are an ideal terrorist weapon, even better than cars that you can drive into crowds. How are we going to deal with that?

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Launch of Extended Life Plastic™ Detector for Radiation Portal Monitors

Saint-Gobain Crystals, a pioneer in radiation detection solutions for Homeland Security applications, has launched Extended Life Plastic™ detector for radiation portal monitor (RPM) applications. The brilliant Extended Life Plastic for gamma energy detection allows RPM systems to operate with low probability of escapes, high uptime, and affordable cost.


Vehicles crossing Radiation Portal Monitor (RPM) installation at land border. (Image credit: Business Wire)

PM systems screen vehicles, people, and other objects for the presence of radiological and nuclear materials, and are largely used at border ports, crossings, and sensitive transit facilities. The important demands for end users are reducing costs while retaining effective deterrence. In the words Mike Kusner, Lead Researcher of the study, “In independent third-party accelerated testing, our prototypes did not exhibit any measurable performance degradation after a five-year equivalent of simulated use conditions.”

Our low energy gamma sensitivity design decreases the chances of false negative scans and increases detection of shielded materials. It also minimizes redesign time and costs when integrating into current installations.

Furthermore, Saint-Gobain has formerly commercialized Neuport™, a helium-3 substitute for the neutron detection module of the RPM. Neuport-based systems have been deployed in mobile and stationary systems for over seven years and provide one of the best price-to-performance ratios amongst substitutes. “Neuport’s plug and play design and modular electronics allows for easy replacement of current helium-3 detectors in radiation portal monitors,” added Engineering Manager Artan Duraj. Saint-Gobain has also come up with a solution that integrates gamma and neutron detection into a cost-efficient compact format known as NaILTM. NaIL goes beyond the normal limits in relation to performance and cost to allow critical spectroscopic detection potential in comparison with legacy systems. Diane Fruehauf, Senior Technology Manager, stated that “NaIL has already been commercialized for smaller format radioisotope identification and detection (RIID) systems, and OEM interest for use in backpacks and portals is very high.” It is anticipated that NaIL for larger formats such as RPM systems will be commercialized by July 2019.

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Forced Convection Heat Transfer To Boiling Helium In A Tube

This paper describes a study carried out to obtain the heat transfer characteristics of liquid helium l in a vertical tube under forced convection conditions. The test section was a straight stainless-steel tube with a length of 8.5 cm and an id of 0.109 cm. Helium pressures ranged from 1.1 to 1.9 atm (0.11 to 0.19 MN m−2) and qualities (vapour mass fractions) ranged from zero to 1. Results were correlated using conventional equations and compared with the data already obtained. The hysteresis observed in the nucleate boiling region is qualitatively discussed. The quality dependence of two-phase flow heat transfer was clearly observed during an increase, but not during a decrease, of heat flux or quality.

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The U.S. Bureau of Land Management Reschedules FY 2019 Crude Helium Auction

The US Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) FY 2019 Crude Helium Auction that was originally scheduled to take place on 18th July – but was postponed due to a lawsuit by Weil Group Resources – has been rescheduled to take place in Amarillo, Texas at 1:00 PM on 31st August.

A total of 210 million cubic feet (MMscf) of crude helium will be sold in the auction, with 5 lots of 25 MMscf each, 5 lots of 15 MMscf each and 2 lots of 5 MMscf each. This is a reduction of 30 MMscf from the quantity that was going to be sold if the auction had taken place as originally scheduled on 18th July. An additional 90 MMscf of crude helium will also be sold in the BLM’s Conservation Helium Sale, which will require that bids be submitted by 4th September. This quantity has been reduced by 15 MMscf from the amount of crude helium that the BLM originally planned to include in the Conservation Sale. The reduction in the total quantity of crude helium to be sold (300 MMscf) is the result of updated geological information related to the status of the BLM’s helium reserve and the quantity of crude helium that the BLM expects to be able to deliver into the BLM Pipeline during FY 2019. There is ongoing speculation that the BLM’s Crude Helium Auction and Conservation Sale could be delayed again due to the Weil lawsuit.

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Helium Auction Canceled; Federal Judge Grants Temporary Restraining Order

Order filed in response to complaint against the Bureau of Land Management

A temporary restraining order granted by a federal judge yesterday has canceled today’s planned helium auction. The order is in response to a civil complaint filed by Weil Group Resources, LLC against the Bureau of Land Management. Weil claims that the allocation rules set by the BLM are detrimental to smaller distributors who purchase smaller amounts of helium at the auction. The company said the current allocation system could cause smaller companies issues with access, delivery, and storage of their purchased helium. So far, the auction has not been rescheduled.

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