What are Nitrogen Generators used for?


The modern prospects of laboratory nitrogen gas have upgraded with the advent of nitrogen generators owing to its in-situ gas generation. Reverent Laboratories all over the world have upgraded to this coherent version of production and supply to LC-MS & GC applications. Are you still unaware of the wonders of this revolutionary masterpiece and would like to have an insight into its eminence? Hang around with us here so that we could help you apprehend the advantages of switching to the efficient and hassle-free N2 generator.

Techniques used

Nitrogen forms 78% of the earth’s atmosphere, is a highly valued gas for its multiple properties that are used in various applications like cutting, purging, cooling, and freezing. This gas in the laboratory generates by separating nitrogen molecules from other air molecules within a dry, clean, compressed air stream, resulting in the extraction of pure nitrogen. They implement two technologies for this process.

PSA (Pressure Swing Adsorption)

They work on the principle of compressing atmospheric air through an air- compressor followed by filtering out the dried air containing nitrogen and oxygen through Carbon Molecular Sieves (CMS) present in a nitrogen generator. The CMS bed selectively adsorbs larger oxygen molecules discharging a concentrated stream of purified nitrogen out of the generator. Despite these generators being stationary, it can generate a high stream of purified N2 at a very affordable cost.

Membrane Nitrogen Generator

They are similar to the above model but relies on the process of selective gas permeation. The compressed air here passes through a permeable membrane consisting of bundles of hollow fibers. Various gas molecules pass through these fiber bores, filtering through it and are released back into the atmosphere depending on filtration rates. The nitrogen is trapped within the membrane and flows through the outlet channel. The gas obtained is dehydrated because water molecules permeate through leaving behind low dew points. This system has limited capacity producing low purity gas. Few advantages include portability and that it requires little maintenance and operational costs.

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What are they used for?

Nitrogen generators have been a boon to the manufacturers that required in-house nitrogen generation to enhance production flexibility, purity, affordability, etc. A wide variety of applications in some sectors are

  • Food and beverage industry: Nitrogen is a non-reactive gas that is a significant alternative to chemical means of keeping food fresh for the consumer. Nitrogen on being added to food packets displaces oxygen & prevents oxidation ceasing the growth of germs and molds on food. That also preserves the freshness of the food item.
  • Laser cutting industry: N2 gas owing to its inertness, doesn’t react with molten metals like aluminum or carbon steel. No additional heat will be generating while vaporizing the metal, as the nitrogen laser swiftly moves the vaporized metal away from the cut edge before re-solidification creating a barrier between the hot metal and the atmospheric oxygen, producing a uniform and cooler cut. With the right amount of pressure applied, the process speeds up. It also applies to annealing and reworking of pieces.
  • Tank blanketing: Nitrogen has excellent cooling and asphyxiation characteristics and hence used as a fire extinguisher, also safeguards storage tanks from the effects of oxygen during their transport. Thus nitrogen acts as an inert blanket to most products and prevents any contact with explosive gases.
  • Petrochemical industry: Most adhesives, chemicals, and fuels become less prone to an explosion in the presence of nitrogen. The gas cuts out oxygen contact to the products preventing any untoward incident.

Why are they preferable?

  • The nitrogen generators are a smarter alternative to primitive cylinders that had many overhead expenses like delivery, rental fees, extra tanks, etc.
  • The best benefit of such generation is to supply an on-demand facility means that one can produce any amount of gas they require in-situ without worrying about traveling issues, reliability, leakages, etc.
  • Cost friendly: Huge expenses for renting, tax-paying, buying, moving tanks, etc. are minimized.
  • Maximum productivity: on-site generation cuts down wastage of the gas due to transportation leakages.
  • Assured quality: when it comes to purity, nothing beats a gas that has been generating in house. Depending on the applications, concentration and purity levels can be customized periodically.
  • Safer working conditions: At low temperatures, nitrogen is highly friable and leads to asphyxiation. There is always a potential risk to nitrogen exposure while transporting tanks, thus removing them maximizes employee safety and assurance.
  • Reduced Environmental concerns: By eliminating leakages, in-situ nitrogen production is highly sustainable and eco-friendly. Compared to cryogenic tanks and moving expenses, a lesser amount of energy is incorporated making the technology energy- efficient.
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