How to Unlock the Benefits of On-Site Nitrogen Generation

How to Unlock the Benefits of On-Site Nitrogen Generation

Nitrogen’s Role Across Various Industries

Nitrogen plays a key role across diverse sectors, from food and beverage and pharmaceuticals to electronics, plastics, and chemicals.

In the food and beverage industry, for example, nitrogen is used to displace oxygen molecules, extending the shelf life of products and preserving their freshness. The pharmaceutical industry uses nitrogen to maintain sterile environments in production and storage areas, minimising oxidation and contamination. Electronics manufacturers use nitrogen to create a moisture-free environment for assembling delicate components. The plastics and chemicals industry use nitrogen to prevent combustive reactions during processing and storage.

Bulk Delivery vs. On-Site Nitrogen Generation

Traditionally, industries source nitrogen through bulk liquid nitrogen delivery, procuring large quantities of the gas in high-pressure cylinders or cryogenic liquid form. This method, though prevalent, poses challenges such as storage constraints, delivery delays, and the safety concerns associated with handling high-pressure vessels.

An onsite nitrogen generation system, on the other hand, presents a sustainable and efficient alternative. Nitrogen generation systems, like those manufactured by Atlas Copco, enable industries to produce their own nitrogen by filtering out other gases from the ambient air, offering a secure, reliable, and constant nitrogen supply.

The benefits of On-Site Nitrogen Generation

Discover the potential of self-sufficiency and eliminate the logistical challenges of traditional nitrogen supply. Below are some of the benefits of producing your own nitrogen.

An In-depth Look at Cost Efficiency

  • Traditional Sourcing Costs: Conventional nitrogen supply depends on frequent deliveries, which implies recurring transportation costs. Also, potential losses due to leakage or other handling issues add to the expenses. There’s also the cost of storage infrastructure, which includes tanks and pressure regulators.
  • Elimination of Auxiliary Charges: Opting for an on-site nitrogen generator helps to avoid several ancillary charges. For example, eliminating the cost of equipment rental, re-supply ordering, and delivery fees leads to significant savings. Moreover, there are no long-term contract commitments, which offer flexibility and control over your nitrogen needs.
  • Cost-Efficient Solutions: Control Gear is a reputable provider of systems to produce nitrogen on-site, offering both purchase and rental options. With an emphasis on cost-efficiency, these systems allow you to generate your own nitrogen gas, as per your requirements, eliminating wastage and reducing costs.

Increased Safety

  • The Risks of Cylinder Mismanagement: Traditional high-pressure cylinders can pose significant threats if accidentally knocked over or mishandled. Any resulting uncontrolled release of high-pressure gas may lead to potential injuries or even catastrophic accidents.
  • The Potential Hazards of Cylinder Storage: Proper storage of nitrogen cylinders is crucial, but it’s not always easily achievable. If stored inappropriately, cylinders can experience explosive decompression, resulting in severe damage to property and personnel.
  • The Safety of On-Site Generation: Generating nitrogen on-site offers a safer alternative than traditional methods. The lower pressure used significantly reduces the risk of accidents associated with high-pressure systems. And, since nitrogen generation matches actual nitrogen consumption, there’s no requirement for large storage facilities, which minimises the risk of gas leaks and explosions.

Reduced Wastage

  • The Inefficiencies of Traditional Cylinders: Traditional nitrogen delivery systems, such as high-pressure cylinders, can’t be fully emptied. Towards the end of their life cycle, the pressure in these cylinders falls, and impurities accumulate in the remaining gas. This unused portion, often as much as 10%, represents a significant inefficiency, contributing to waste and increasing operational costs.
  • Unused Gas in “Empty” Cylinders: Ironically, even when returned cylinders are supposedly “empty”, they typically still contain around 10% of the original gas. This unused nitrogen is effectively given back to the supplier, representing a hidden cost for businesses, and one that is avoidable.
  • The Scalability of On-Site Generators: One of the most compelling advantages of on-site nitrogen generators is their scalability. Businesses can tailor the output of these systems to their specific needs, avoiding the purchase of excess capacity. And, as a company’s demand for nitrogen gas increases, on-site generators can be easily scaled up to meet these new requirements, reducing waste and ensuring a future-proof solution.

Flexibility and Scalability

  • Adjustment Based on Purity Requirements, Flow Rate, and Cost-Effectiveness: On-site nitrogen generators provide a level of flexibility that conventional delivery systems cannot match. You can tweak the parameters of your generator according to the specific needs of your process. This means you have control over the purity of the nitrogen output and its flow rate. Such flexibility ensures that you meet operational needs most cost-effectively.
  • The Suitability of Membrane Systems and PSA Systems: Depending on your specific requirements, you can choose between membrane and Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) systems. If your operations need low-flow rates and moderate purity levels, a membrane nitrogen generator is ideal. This type of system uses semi-permeable membranes to separate nitrogen from other components in the air. On the other hand, if you require higher flow rates and higher purity levels, PSA nitrogen generators might be the best fit. PSA systems use the process of adsorption to separate nitrogen from the air, producing a highly pure output.
  • Integration with Other Systems: Atlas Copco nitrogen generators offer seamless integration with other essential equipment like desiccant dryers. This compatibility allows for a comprehensive solution catering to diverse applications, from food packaging to pharmaceutical production and chemical processing to electronics manufacturing.

Technological Advancements

The evolution of nitrogen generation technology has seen significant advancements that have further enhanced its efficiency and utility.

Membrane Technology

Filters Oxygen from Compressed Air via Hollow, Polymeric Fibres

Membrane technology operates by passing compressed air through hollow polymeric fibres. These fibres filter out oxygen and other trace gases, allowing only pure nitrogen to pass through. The result is a continuous supply of nitrogen on-site, eliminating the need for cylinder deliveries and their associated risks and costs.

Adjustable Purity Through Regulating the Volume of Air Passed through the Membrane

One of the key benefits of membrane technology is the ability to adjust the purity of the generated nitrogen. By modulating the volume of ambient air the compressed air system passes through the membrane, users can precisely control the purity level of the output. This gives businesses the flexibility to tailor nitrogen production to their specific needs, whether they require low purity for general applications or high purity for sensitive processes.

Ideal for Applications like Snack Food Packaging, Laser Cutting, and Tank Padding

The versatility of membrane technology makes it ideal for a wide range of applications. In snack food packaging, the adjustable purity levels allow for the precise control required to preserve product freshness. In industries such as laser cutting, a reliable supply of high-purity nitrogen is essential for achieving precision cuts. Similarly, in tank padding, nitrogen creates an inert atmosphere that prevents the risk of explosion or contamination.

PSA (Pressure Swing Adsorption) Technology

PSA Technology is a cornerstone in the field of on-site nitrogen generation. But what is this technology, and what are its associated benefits?

Two-Tower CMS Structure

PSA technology operates on a dual-tower mechanism, each packed with a Carbon Molecular Sieve (CMS). As air passes through one tower, the CMS selectively traps oxygen and other impurities, allowing only nitrogen to pass through, resulting in a consistent supply of highly pure nitrogen.

The Purification Process

The CMS has the unique property of preferentially adsorbing oxygen, water vapours, and other trace gases. This differential adsorption process leads to the separation of nitrogen from the incoming air, leaving behind pure, dry nitrogen gas.

High-Purity Applications

PSA technology’s ability to deliver high-purity nitrogen makes it particularly well-suited for industries where purity is a critical requirement. These include chemical processing, where nitrogen is ideal for blanketing and purging processes, and oil and gas production, where nitrogen can be used for pipeline testing, to prevent combustion and oxidation, and to maintain equipment at optimal performance levels.

Environmental Benefits

A Reduced Carbon Footprint

Traditional nitrogen supply methods often involve the long-distance transportation of cylinders or liquid nitrogen, leading to substantial greenhouse gas emissions. By embracing on-site nitrogen generation, industries can drastically cut transportation-related emissions, contributing to a reduced carbon footprint.

An Environmentally Friendly Nitrogen Supply

Control Gear’s on-site nitrogen generators feature integrated systems to prevent air contamination, fostering a clean working environment. Unlike conventional nitrogen supply methods, on-site generation doesn’t involve storing cylinders, which can potentially leak and cause air pollution. It provides an eco-friendly solution by minimising pollution and ensuring a safer, cleaner industrial environment.

How to Unlock the Benefits of On-Site Nitrogen Generation
How to Unlock the Benefits of On-Site Nitrogen Generation

Final Thoughts

The industry shift towards on-site nitrogen generation is a testament to its key benefits: economic efficiency, enhanced safety, and environmental sustainability. As industries strive for self-sufficiency in their nitrogen needs, they’re not just improving operations, but also building a greener and safer environment.

Atlas Copco’s reliable nitrogen generators stand as a testament to this change, embodying the future of industrial nitrogen supply with integrated systems designed to prevent air contamination, reduce carbon footprints, and increase operational efficiency. The time to embrace on-site nitrogen generation is now for the sake of your bottom line, the environment, and the future of your operations.

Reach out to our experts at Control Gear today and discover how Atlas Copco products can revolutionise your operations. Take advantage of this opportunity to boost efficiency and drive success. Contact us now for a free consultation!