Nitrogen is one of the most basic and abundant elements we know to exist. Whether in its naturally gaseous form or as a liquid (boiling point -195.8 °C), it is highly stable, as well as colourless and odourless. It is estimated to be the 7th most abundant element in our galaxy and occurs naturally in our planet’s atmosphere, accounting for 78% of the air we breathe. As such, nitrogen is an essential component of life on Earth and is found in all living organisms & organic matter. Through the nitrogen cycle, one of nature’s most important processes, nitrogen compounds enter into our planet’s ecosystem and are present in all forms of plants, as well as in animals that consume nitrogen-rich vegetation. In humans, nitrogen is essential to our body’s ability to synthesize proteins, amino acids and nucleic acids for DNA. However, as our bodies cannot absorb nitrogen through breathing, the only method is through consumption of plant based foods or omnivorous/herbivorous animals.
Assigned the atomic number 7, nitrogen was first discovered in 1772 by Scottish physician, Daniel Rutherford. His discovery occurred when he removed oxygen and carbon dioxide from air and, therefore, demonstrated that the remaining gas could not support combustion or the respiration of living organisms.
Since its initial discovery, nitrogen gas has been found to have a number of important uses. Its clean, dry and inert properties mean it can serve various functions across numerous industries. In analytical science, nitrogen can assist with the techniques of mass spectrometry and spectroscopy. In manufacturing and processing, nitrogen can help prevent the dangerous and undesirable results of reactions with oxygen (e.g. fires hazards or food spoilage due to oxidation).
Whilst nitrogen applications span back further, its use in manufacturing & processing was not common place until the industrial revolution and the rise of the industrial gases industry; correlating closely with the advent of the gas cylinder back in the 1880s - the first proper high pressure storage vessel.
Since then, nitrogen supply & use has become widespread across a vast range of manufacturing & processing industries such as food, beverage, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, metal fabrication, electronics & semiconductors, aerospace & automobile, ceramics & glass, plastics, rubbers and many more. Furthermore, within each industry there are now numerous nitrogen applications that can help enhance quality, reinforce safety and prevent the negative impacts of oxygen exposure on end products (e.g. the use of blanketing, bottling and sparging in wine making; form filling & packaging in food manufacture; drying, fire prevention, gas flushing and process inerting in chemicals & pharmaceuticals manufacture; gas assisted cutting and moulding in metal, synthetic & plastic fabrication).
To date, the vast majority of manufacturing & processing industries have met their nitrogen supply needs by purchasing nitrogen gas or liquid nitrogen in bulk. Traditionally this has been produced by industrial gas companies in huge gas separation plants through the fractional distillation of air. This involves multiple stages of cooling, separation and filtration, after which purified nitrogen and other atmospheric gases are stored into high pressure cylinders, dewars or micro-bulk tanks and trucked to the customer’s manufacturing facility. Not only is this process extremely energy intensive, it produces a large quantity of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), having a significant impact on the environment.
Onsite nitrogen generation systems offer companies a better, more cost effective, energy efficient and sustainable alternative to bulk supply methods. Nitrogen generators are relatively cheap in comparison to the ongoing costs associated with bulk delivery and allow companies to take back control of their nitrogen supply. Such systems utilize technologies such as Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) or Hollow-Fiber Membrane, which have been tried, tested and proven over time to be robust methods of nitrogen gas purification. Furthermore, nitrogen generators are capable of meeting any application demand, in terms of flow rate, pressure and purity specifications. They not only eliminate the impacts of continuously rising supply costs on company bottom line, but also deliver a convenient, reliable and safe onsite gas supply that is always available for use, on demand. Whilst the are various factors to consider, a typical investment would pay for itself within 12 to 18 months (on average).
Peak’s i-Flow nitrogen gas generator is a highly efficient & reliable solution to nitrogen gas supply for numerous manufacturing & processing applications. It is a modular and scalable system that can be expanded retrospectively to meet growing facility needs. A single generator is capable of producing over 4000 litres per minute (or 240+ Nm3/hr) of very clean, very dry nitrogen gas, at purities ranging from 5% to 99.9995% (ultra-high purity N2). This allows i-Flow to not only meet broad and varying customer supply requirements, but can also help companies improve manufacturing efficiencies, reduce costs and meet sustainability targets.
Juice cartons on packaging production line
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Majority of industries buy nitrogen gas supplies via nitrogen cylinder packs, others meet their needs through liquid nitrogen dewars, micro-bulk tanks or bulk liquid nitrogen delivery. There is a better, more sustainable & safer option. Reduce the cost of nitrogen gas to your organisation & become self-sufficient. Find out how much you can save with a Peak industrial nitrogen generator system.