A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

A boost for Albany metals industry

Written March 11th, 2019 by Hasso Hering

Looking south at the end of Marion Street in Albany on Monday afternoon. The city has approved an industrial site plan for the vacant land in the right foreground.

Planning is under way to give Albany’s metals industry a boost with the addition of a $20 million machine, a so-called HIP furnace to be installed at a now-vacant site near the south end of Marion Street.

HIP stands for “hot isostatic pressing,” which Wikipedia explains is a manufacturing process to reduce the porosity of metals and increase the density of ceramic materials. This improves the properties of materials such a titanium and makes them easier to work with. An HIP furnace subjects material to extremely high temperature plus pressure in the form of an inert gas, usually argon.

There’s been no announcement of the project, but the outlines can be gleaned from online sources and documents published by the city of Albany.

On Feb. 25, following an executive session closed to the public, the Albany City Council voted 6-0 in open session “to direct staff to develop a proposal for Stack Metallurgical.” The nature of the proposal was not disclosed.

Also on Feb. 25, the city’s community development department approved a site plan for new construction of two industrial buildings, of 25,000 and 11,930 square feet respectively, on two lots at 4322 and 4386 Marion St. S.E. The applicant was Daniel Ederer, of Seattle, whose Linked-In profile says he is president of Stack Metallurgical Group of Portland.

According to county tax records, Marion Street Investors LLC, a firm the city application says is headed by Ederer, bought the two lots, one in November for $200,000, and the other in December for $325,000.

A site plan with the application shows, among other things, two pads for tanks to hold argon gas.

Meanwhile, back in January, a Swedish company, Quintus Technologies, issued an announcement in Västerås, Sweden. It said that Portland-based Stack Metallurgical was adding a “Mega-HIP from Quintus Technologies.” The hot isostatic press, it said, has a work zone 63 inches in diameter and 102 inches in height and allows densification of large batches at 29,000 pounds per square inch and a maximum temperature of 2280 degrees Fahrenheit.

The city council agenda for Wednesday includes a request by John Pascone, president of the Albany-Millersburg Economic Development Corp., to grant the Stack HIP project two additional years, for a total of five years, of property tax exemption once the Albany installation is complete.

“Stack is planning on making an investment in Albany of almost $30 million, which includes purchasing land, building a new building and installing a $20 million HIP furnace, already on order, and hiring 6-18 new employees,” Pascone wrote in a memo to the council.

The Marion Street site is in the Albany Enterprise Zone, where qualifying companies can get three years of property tax exemption for making investments and hiring workers. If companies pay employees 150 percent of the average compensation in the county, they qualify for two additional years of no property taxes.

Average compensation for each county is published by the state Employment Department. The current figures are based on 2017 and are good through the end of 2019. For Linn County, the average compensation was $41,556. To get the additional two-year tax break, Stack will have to provide average compensation of at least $62,334. (Compensation can include non-mandatory benefits that can be monetized.)

The other sponsor of the Albany Enterprise Zone, Linn County, has already approved the property tax agreement.

For the timing and other details, we’ll have to wait. You’d think companies making a significant and welcome investment in a town would make a public announcement before allowing obscure land use decisions, council agendas, or press releases from Sweden to give away the gist. (hh)

The story has been updated to reflect purchase of the two lots making up the site.

27 responses to “A boost for Albany metals industry”

  1. Terri Wilson says:

    Need to make sure the community knows the dangers of argon gas!

    • Rich Kellum says:

      I hope you are saying this tongue in cheek, Argon is a inert gas, which comprises .6 of one percent of the atmosphere. It “doesn’t do nuttin to nuttin”….

      • thomas cordier says:

        Argon is also a very heavy gas, so when taken into the lungs death is probable. Argon is not toxic but in absence of Oxygen death.

        • Rich Kellum says:

          absolutely no danger to the community, unless you jump into the chamber that has not been purged there is not a problem

          • L. LaRosseau says:

            This Concerned Citizen feels as though she/he has been tossed into “the Chamber” after watching each riveting City Council session on Public Access Government Channel. There isn’t enough inert gas in the known universe to make that a pleasing experience.

          • S. Whittle says:

            Speaking of chambers not being purged, that whole ADU kerfuffle will not be subsumed by any amount of inert gas … not even by flat out inertia.

      • J. Jacobson says:

        Inert gas perfectly describes most City Council actions.

    • DSimpson says:

      Everyone in the surrounding area should be issued tinfoil hats. You can’t be too careful!

  2. Bryan says:

    Love it…people complaining about good paying jobs. Not everything needs everyone’s approval. That’s why we elect and hire people to do such things. Maybe you have too much time on your hands?

  3. Dick Olsen says:

    Decades ago one of my friends at the Bureau of Mines thought he’d lower his voice by breathing in a lung full of argon. After a couple of base comments he passed out. Luckily, those present knew to give him artificial respiration and he revived. Tom’s right, argon is too heavy to breathe out if you get a lung full of the pure stuff.

    • centrist says:

      An important step in the resuscitation after inhaling a heavy gas— get the navel higher than the head. Gravity helps clear the lungs

  4. Mike Patrick says:

    You can’t fix STUPID, Dick Olsen!

    • thomas cordier says:

      It’s not stupid. People just don’t know Argon is heavy. Helium balloons are often inhaled to make ones voice change to high pitch. Not a problem because He is lighter than O2 and easily exits lungs. Argon is certainly not a health issue for community

    • Rich Kellum says:

      Stupid fixes itself eventually, if you breathe it simply assume a head down posture and breathe and it will leave your system. That is if you know that it is happening.

      1. Stay out of the enclosed argon space

      2. Don’t be stupid and intentionally breathe it…
      3. If you are more than 4 feet outside of the building that they will build you would have to chase the argon to find it…
      4. Have some fun with this conversation

    • J. Jacobson says:

      Stupid is a reminder to smart that there’s another way.

  5. Albany YIMBY says:

    The work zone is from 1.6 to 2.6 m and the pressure is 200 mPA with a temperature around 1250 ºC. You can tell the approximate measurements where taken from the Swedish company in metric and converted into USC.

    Great news for Albany nonetheless, high-tech industry that adds white and blue collar jobs in an area that does not have a particular environmental value.

  6. Leroy says:

    So we can rest assured and ground dwelling critters near by will expire if snooting in the area. The reason not much is public is because the greasing of the palms is not complete. Thank you for the investigative results HH, we wouldn’t even know with out you.

  7. HowlingCicada says:

    With reasonable accuracy, the relative densities (call it “heavyness” if you must) of major gases are: Air=29, nitrogen=28, oxygen=32, argon=40, CO2=44. In other words, argon is not much “heavier” than oxygen.

    Those who took high school chemistry might recognize these numbers, know how to approach issues like this, and less likely to spout or believe nonsense.

    • L. LaRosseau says:

      Many seem predisposed to consume nonsense by the gallon. Why things should be any different in Argonland seems obvious.

    • centrist says:

      Then there’s absolutely no public concern, ehh??

      • HowlingCicada says:

        Lots of public concern. Imagine an ordinary kitchen pressure cooker and multiply the volume by 500, the pressure by 1000, and the temperature rise by 10, for a combined (not sure what to call it) factor of 5 million, all for a cost of only 300,000 pressure cookers. Very rough numbers. It’s like comparing a large firecracker with an atom bomb.

        I don’t know anything about the safety record of machinery like this. If I were on the City Council, I would want to know.
        That said, if I lived nearby, my biggest concerns would probably be noise and traffic (heavy trucks). The notion of “heavy” argon, false to begin with, pales in comparison.

        • centrist says:

          It’s prudent due diligence for the Council to consider the safety record and to attempt to quantify public exposure.
          Let’s see, “heavy” inert gas at elevated temperature and pressure. If the pressure vessel breaches, there’s no immediate flame because the gas is inert. If a secondary containment withstands the pressure wave of the leak, nothing else happens.
          The stored energy in an industrial steam generating boiler is orders of magnitude higher.
          Having sat in the “onion section” (aka bathing limited) of a public hearing or two, the question is “science or belief”
          And so it begins…….

        • thomas cordier says:

          “The notion of “heavy” argon, false to begin with”…I guess you can’t cure stupid applies to Cicada. Several technical people have put forward their experience, even death, due to Ar displacing oxygen–it is true.
          Sill not a community concern.

          • HowlingCicada says:

            I thought long and hard about argon displacing air, and now agree with you. It’s roughly like cold (denser) air entering an open window and sinking to the floor, displacing warmer air. The solution to both argon and cold air displacement is whatever it takes to mix them up (like a big fan, and open roof or windows in the case of argon). No community concern (at least about argon).

            See, you’re dead wrong about “can’t cure stupid.”

  8. HowlingCicada says:

    Here’s what Stack’s competitor’s facility in Camas, WA installed in 2008 (original date in HTML header):

    Their (at the time) “world’s largest” is about the same size and max temperature, but only half the max pressure of the Stack machine. I wonder if Boeing (or wherever they out-source to) has bigger and better top-secret HIP’s to process their turbines.


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