LITTLE ROCK — A New Jersey company announced Thursday plans for a new air separation plant in southern Arkansas.

Linde North America said it would break ground Wednesday in Lewisville, about 35 miles east of Texarkana in Lafayette County, on a facility that will initially employ 24 workers and will produce liquid nitrogen and liquid oxygen for markets in Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas.

"The Lewisville plant will give us the size and operating efficiencies we need to support our customers, who have seen great expansion in their own businesses and who are poised for even more growth in the future," Linde North America President Pat Murphy said in a release.

The 470 ton-per-day plant is expected to begin operating by the fourth quarter of 2013, the company said.

Liquid nitrogen and liquid oxygen have several industrial and medical applications, including as refrigerants for fast freezing.