Is your company purchasing nitrogen gas at 99.999% purity and you’re not sure why? Well, you’re not alone! This is where the importance of nitrogen generation system design comes into play. While there are many applications which do require nitrogen gas concentrated to 99.999%, they are significantly outweighed by the applications that don’t. Rather than relying on a delivery of bulk liquid or pressurized cylinders, many nitrogen users are choosing to produce a custom supply of nitrogen within their facility, and they are doing it at a fraction of the cost.
On September 20, 2021, a global cryogenic gas supplier announced liquid nitrogen price increases of up to 20% for the second consecutive year. Over the past decade we’ve seen a mass industry shift towards in-house nitrogen generation, as end users avoid price increases by taking full control of their nitrogen supply.
With nitrogen being the most plentiful air gas at 78%, the process of separating nitrogen from air is very efficient, relative to the extraction of the other air gasses which only account for 22%, most of which is oxygen. The ability to tailor the nitrogen purity, pressure and flow rate to a specific industry or application is what leads to substantial savings over traditional supply.
The reality (and also the problem) is that no matter how inefficient a system is designed, nitrogen generation will typically be less expensive than purchasing the gas from a third party. This inevitably introduces wasteful and bloated nitrogen generation systems into the market.
Before designing a new system, it is critical to understand the nuances of the existing nitrogen supply and how it is used. Collecting flow, pressure and purity data from the existing supply can help create a baseline for measurable improvement. We are firm believers in the adage “you can’t manage what you can’t measure”. When possible, the nitrogen flow and pressure requirements can be captured using calibrated instrumentation.