Nitrogen is an inert gas used for a range of industrial applications due to its ideal characteristics. From food packaging to chemical processing, this gas plays a crucial role in preserving quality, enhancing safety, and improving efficiency. Its odourless and colourless properties make nitrogen suitable for use in the food and beverage industry. As a result of its many uses, it’s no surprise that nitrogen’s demand is ever-present.  

There are several ways to acquire nitrogen, however, leasing an on-site nitrogen tank or having it delivered in high-pressure bottles mean relying on a third-party supplier. A more cost-effective, convenient option is a nitrogen gas generation system. This article will explore the mechanics behind the generation of this gas. 

Understanding Nitrogen Gas Generation Systems 

Nitrogen gas generation systems typically work by separating nitrogen molecules from the oxygen molecules within compressed air, which creates a purified supply of nitrogen. Depending on the quality of nitrogen you require, there are different technologies which are best to use.  

Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) Nitrogen Generators 

PSA systems rely on selective adsorption of gases onto an adsorbent material. Atoms, ions or molecules from compressed air stick to a surface of an adsorbent. This process uses a PSA generator which separates the nitrogen from the oxygen, carbon dioxide and water vapour that are also in the compressed air stream. This results in pure nitrogen being left behind and the adsorbed oxygen is then either released as waste or recirculated back into the atmosphere.  

In cases where the application requires purity levels of up to 99.999% PSA nitrogen generators enable continuous, high-capacity nitrogen flow. Although they are a high initial investment compared to other technologies, they do provide higher purity levels and higher flow that are necessary for particular industrial applications.  

Membrane Nitrogen Generators 

This generator works by passing compressed air through semipermeable membranes that comprise of bundles of hollow fibres. When this occurs, the air that passed through is then separated into component gases. The modules have two ends; at one end, the compressed air is passed into the fibres and contacts the membrane as it moves through the fibre bores.  

Water vapour, oxygen and other gases are discharged, permeating through the membrane fibre, while the nitrogen remains in the membrane and flows through the outlet port.  

This technology is simple, requiring minimal maintenance and has zero operational costs. For industrial applications where the necessary flow of nitrogen is relatively low and purity levels don’t exceed 99%, this process is ideal. Compared to high purity technologies, such as PSA, membrane nitrogen generators have a lower initial investment.  

Advantages of a Nitrogen Gas Generation System 

Compared to traditional cylinder supply methods, nitrogen gas generation systems offer several advantages

1. Cost-effectiveness  

    Using gas generation systems mean nitrogen can be generated on-site, saving businesses costs that are associated with cylinder rental, delivery, and handling fees.  

    2. Continuous Supply 

      Unlike cylinder-based systems that require regular replacement and may run out unexpectedly, nitrogen generation systems offer a continuous and reliable source of nitrogen gas.  

      3. Flexibility and Scalability 

        Another advantage of nitrogen generation systems is that they can be tailored to meet specific flow rate and purity requirements. This means more flexibility and scalability to accommodate varying production demands.  

        4. Environmental Benefits 

          On-site nitrogen generation can reduce the carbon footprint associated with transportation of cylinders, as well as eliminating the need for cylinder disposal.  

          Overall, with recent advancements in technology, nitrogen gas generation systems offer a cost-effective and more convenient solution to the traditional cylinders. With the consistent demand for nitrogen for industrial applications, these methods help to meet this.  

          Nitrogen Gas Generators From Air Power East 

          At Air Power East, we offer a range of nitrogen gas generators, that are efficient, safe, and environmentally friendly. Our extensive knowledge about nitrogen generators is at your disposal. For more information, or to answer any questions you may have, call Air Power East on 01359 251180.  

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