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Air Products (APD - Analyst Report) has expanded its foothold in the Upper Midwest through a long-term agreement with Boyceville, WI-based Big River Resources Boyceville, LLC to produce liquid CO2. The agreement will strengthen Air Products’ liquid CO2 supply network in the Upper Midwest by catering to existing and new customers.

Air Products will be producing 250 tons per day (tpd) of liquid CO2 at Big River Resources' ethanol plant in Boyceville. The company will supply food and beverage-grade liquid CO2 from the plant to industrial customers in the Upper Midwest. The plant is expected to start its operations in early 2014.

To expand its foothold in the Midwest, Air Products recently entered into another long-term agreement with Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy, LLC (SIRE) to produce liquid and supply liquid CO2 in the Midwest region. In the U.S., Air Products has established 13 liquid CO2 production plants.

Air Products will build a plant at SIRE's ethanol production facility in Council Bluffs, Iowa, to produce 400 tons of liquid CO2 per day (tpd). The plant is expected to start production from early 2014.

On Jun 4, 2013, Air Products expanded its base of industrial gases offerings in North America by acquiring Monroe, LA-based EPCO Carbon Dioxide Products, Inc., a privately-held company that manufactures and markets liquid carbon dioxide (CO2). The buyout also included Illinois-based Louisiana Leasing, Ltd., an affiliate to EPCO that owns liquid CO2 distribution assets solely leased to the host company.

The EPCO buyout complemented Air Products’ aim of expanding its portfolio of industrial gases offerings, mainly liquid CO2, in North America.

Air Products already offers liquid CO2 across the globe. Liquid CO2 is a chief product supplied in the food, beverage, chemical, pharmaceutical, oil field services and metals fabrication markets among other merchant industrial gases.

Air Products currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Other companies in the chemical industry worth considering are Johnson Matthey plc (JMPLY), LyondellBasell Industries NV (LYB - Analyst Report) and PPG Industries Inc. (PPG - Analyst Report). While Johnson Matthey holds a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), both LyondellBasell and PPG Industries retain a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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