Whether you’re upgrading your lab or setting one up for the first time, nitrogen access is key. Industries all over the world use nitrogen generator systems to supply your instruments with the nitrogen you need.
Unlike gas cylinders, a nitrogen gas generator will never run out of gas and supplies your lab with consistently high purity.
Investing in one, such as a Gast nitrogen generator, brings you a number of benefits, and there are a couple of different types of generators to consider.
1. Cost Saving
A lab nitrogen generator is a sound investment because you’ll save money in the long run. Gas prices naturally fluctuate throughout the year, which can make it difficult to budget.
On-site generators, however, cut out the need to order nitrogen tanks.
You won’t have to find a provider and then pay them for the tanks, nor will you have to wait for them to actually ship to your location. This will also eliminate delivery truck use if your lab is conscious of your carbon footprint.
Additionally, you won’t have to pay rental fees for the tanks, which you will have to return at some point.
Typically three cylinders will be on-site at any one time – a used one waiting to get picked up, one you’re currently using, and a full one not connected yet.
One such brand to look into is Gast, which has a wide array of pneumatic products including vacuum pumps, compressors, and regenerative blowers. You can trust their products to operate in multiple critical applications in a lab or otherwise.
Gast products are also designed to be easily serviced and are equipped with dual-voltage motors, making them the most versatile products in the pneumatic industry.
2. Increase Safety
Extra equipment in your lab creates a safety hazard. After all, it’s dangerous to lug giant cylinders past your expensive equipment.
Nitrogen cylinders have to be secured on specific racks, which take up a lot of space. They also need to be placed in an area where, should they leak, your employees won’t suffocate.
Nitrogen generators are a safer alternative that doesn’t risk personal injury or destruction of lab property.
Nitrogen generators use compressed air to produce nitrogen gas by removing it from the normal air humans breathe every day. In fact, 78 percent of the air is nitrogen, while only 21 percent is oxygen.
There are systems and safety valves built into the device that vent excess oxygen into the environment while maintaining the nitrogen in the lab’s air. You should also install ambient room analyzers that will read the air’s oxygen levels.
3. Membrane Type
Membrane type nitrogen generators use special membrane materials to allow the passage of one gas while minimizing another. It’s essentially a filter, much like the one you use when making coffee in the morning.
The gas pushed through the membrane is over 90 percent nitrogen, with most of the other air molecules getting pushed out.
More advanced systems can have multiple stages of filtration before even reaching the membrane. This helps to remove other particles like dust and excess moisture, protecting the membrane from getting clogged or damaged.
Fine mesh filters are commonly used in the process to remove particles in the air, while air dryers remove moisture.
4. Pressure Swing Absorption (PSA) Type
PSA type nitrogen generators work with high pressure similar to the membrane types but without a membrane built-in.
Under high pressures, nitrogen gas exhibits a strong affinity for certain adsorbent media. These materials include Zeolite and Granular activated carbon (GAC).
Various other gases can also be absorbed from a mixture at different rates depending on pressure.
A PSA generator is typically made up of two towers. One is for absorption, while the other is for regeneration.
A compressor pushes air into the absorption tower and makes contact with the adsorbent which holds onto nitrogen gas. Oxygen and other impurities pass through.
When the stored nitrogen needs to be collected, you reduce the pressure.
There are other PSA nitrogen generators that work the opposite way. Instead of holding onto the nitrogen and pushing everything else through, they hold onto the impurities and allow the smaller nitrogen particles through.
This is primarily done by passing air through a column of packed material made of carbon called a Carbon Molecular Sieve (CMS).
A PSA nitrogen generator requires two CMS columns to function. As one column is depressurized, the other pushes air through the sieve at pressure.
Both types of PSA generators are similar to the membrane generator in that they also contain prefiltration stages to remove excess dust and moisture to protect the CMS.
5. Necessary For Your Industry’s Needs
Nitrogen generator systems have many applications in more industries than you’d expect.
Food and beverage industries flood their products with nitrogen that displaces oxygen and prolongs product lifetimes. It also stops the chemical degradation of food that is caused by oxidation.
In analytical chemistry, a stable and continuous supply of nitrogen is essential.
Aircraft and motor vehicle tires also require nitrogen because most aircraft and vehicle tires are filled with pure nitrogen. This is because nitrogen maintains a more stable pressure and its tanks lack water vapor.
Regardless of your industry, nitrogen generator installation can be an easy process if you follow the manual that comes with your device. Usually, you can pair a stand-alone generator with your existing compressor, a house air system, or an oil-lubricated air compressor.
When dealing with applications such as liquid cooling or sterile connections, consider a product line that is focused on those needs. Precise and easy connections are essential in the biopharmaceutical field.
Consider a Nitrogen Generator for Your Next Upgrade
Although there are only two main types of nitrogen generator, there are a number of other things to consider before investing in one.
What kind of space are you working with, and what level of nitrogen usage and purity do you need? How much are you willing to spend to make the upgrade?
There is also the matter of connecting pieces to consider.
Check out our online shop today for your choice of pneumatic, hydraulic, electromechanical, filtration, hoses, and more for your lab’s needs. And reach out to us if you have any questions or concerns.