Linde AG is diversifying into a consumer and service business, establishing a dry cleaning subsidiary, Fred Butler.
The company, which opened its first German stores in Frankfurt and Wiesbaden last month, provides textile cleaning technology based on recycled carbon dioxide (CO²). The environmentally friendly method is said to have benefits over conventional dry cleaning.
"The innovative strength and expertise of Linde AG, Europe's second largest supplier of technical gases, is a real strength behind Fred Butler," Linde said in a statement.
"Fred Butler cleaning technology is a further example of the varied application of technical gases."
Linde said liquid CO² had been used for decades to clean sensitive instruments in the American aviation industry. The principle was applied to textiles in the mid-1990s.
Soiled clothing is placed in a sealed washing chamber. Liquid CO² and a small amount of biodegradable washing agent are added. A rotating drum ensures the CO² penetrates textile fibres to remove fat, oil and dirt particles. After the CO² is separated from impurities, it is compressed and stored for the next cleaning cycle.
Linde this week said it had bought Turkish industrial gas producer Karbogaz AS, which generated sales of EUR27 million (USD34.7 million) in 2005 and employed 230 people.
The price was not disclosed. Linde spokesperson Aldo Belloni said Karbogaz was a regional market leader in "the thriving CO² segment".
Linde has appointed Credit Suisse to investigate the sale of its forklift segment as it intends to focus on its gas and engineering segment once it finalises acquisition of the BOC gas group (Forkliftaction.com News #259