Innovative lightweight composite cooking gas cylinders developed by Job Thai Industry Co are about to be commercially introduced to the public early next month by PTT Plc, Thailand's largest cooking gas producer.
The new cylinder can handle higher pressure and has a 20-year life cycle, much longer than the 3-5 years of the steel type.
Sommart Jarurattanakua, the managing director of Job Thai Industry, said the new technology was developed by mixing high-density polyethylene with fibre glass.
The cylinder weighs only 11 kilogrammes compared with 15-kg traditional steel cylinders.
It is able to handle higher pressure than the steel type, while it has a 20-year life cycle, much longer than the 3-5 years of the latter.
Although the price of composite cylinders is 30% more than that of steel cylinders, the difference will be offset by their longer life and lower transport costs, Mr Sommart said.
``Soon, labour and transport costs in the cooking gas business will be a big threat, so composite cylinders will be one of the surviving solutions,'' he said.
Mr Sommart got the idea about the innovation 10 years ago when he worked for a weeding tool producer and visited a client's home in Norway.
After returning to Thailand, he searched for information about composite gas cylinders. Fortunately, a relative is a chemistry expert at Chulalongkorn University and helped him to develop the product.
Research started in 2005 and took almost two years from the laboratory to field tests. In 2007, a factory was built for commercial production and the first cylinders rolled out a year later.
With investment of 200 million baht, the Lop Buri plant is working to its full capacity of 15,000 units per month.
Mr Sommart said the company plans to invest 80 million next year to double capacity to 30,000 units as the product has gained popularity among cooking gas traders.
PTT introduced the composite cylinder in the southernmost provinces several years ago to prevent insurgents hiding bombs in steel cylinders.
This year, orders have reached 130,000 units, with the figure expected to rise to 200,000 next year.
Job Thai Industry plans to produce a 5-kg cylinder.
The composite gas cylinder was recently chosen by the National Innovation Agency as one of the best innovations in 2013.