Air Products & Chemicals, Allentown, said Tuesday that it will help build a hydrogen production plant for PetroChina Co. Ltd., a major oil and gas company.

The plant, to produce 90 million cubic feet of hydrogen daily, is scheduled to be operating early in 2012. Air Products said it marks the first time a state-owned refinery in China has called on an outside company to fill its need for hydrogen.

The plant will be built by a joint-venture company that it owns with Technip in Sichuan, China, where the PetroChina refinery is located.

"This project will help make cleaner transportation fuel available to meet China's growing demand," Air Products vice president Phil Sproger said.

Air Products supplies specialty gases for the industrial, energy and health-care markets.    - Paul Schweizer