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how does a nitrogen generator work?

How Does a Nitrogen Generator Work? – Membrane and PSA

Nitrogen gas is used in a variety of items we use and consume on a daily basis. Whether it’s the pharmaceutical, food and beverage, electronics, petroleum or manufacturing industry, there are several industrial uses of nitrogen gas that make nitrogen generators critical to success. There are different types of nitrogen generators, with each one producing nitrogen in a specific way.

What is a Nitrogen Generator?

If you need nitrogen for your industrial application, a nitrogen generator can produce a steady supply on-site. Nitrogen generators use different methods to separate nitrogen from the rest of atmospheric air. Nitrogen generators don’t create nitrogen from scratch; they separate the nitrogen from other elements and gasses such as oxygen.

On-site nitrogen generation is considered safer than having cylinders delivered. Having a generator means staff won’t need to carry heavy pressurized cylinders or worry about a disruption in production if there is a problem with delivery. On-site nitrogen generators are also considered better for the environment since production at a nitrogen facility would require a large amount of energy.

How Does a Nitrogen Generator Work?

When understanding a nitrogen generator; how it works and other basic principles, it’s necessary to know that nitrogen generation is a modern process of separating elements and gasses in the air. There are two methods by which you can separate elements in the air. Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) and Membrane generators both work in different ways to separate nitrogen, primarily from oxygen.

what is a nitrogen generator?

Most nitrogen generators that are used on-site are free-standing. They are often stored in a cabinet or are mounted on a skid. The generators will usually include pre-filters and after-filters. They are relatively easy to set up, with an air line connected to the inlet, and the outlet connected to the nitrogen supply line. When you have a nitrogen generator, you can generate a continuous supply of nitrogen gas. There are two types of nitrogen generators – PSA and Membrane.

PSA Nitrogen Generator

Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) is based on producing a constant stream of nitrogen that results from using compressed air. The PSA nitrogen generator working principal uses pretreated compressed air that is filtered through a carbon molecular sieve (CMS). Trace gasses, as well as oxygen, will ultimately be absorbed through the CMS. Nitrogen is then allowed to pass through. This process occurs in two towers which both contain a CMS.

At a specific time, the on-line tower will vent the contaminants. This is called the regenerative mode. Oxygen, which is made of smaller molecules, is separated from the nitrogen. The lining in the sieve will absorb the smaller oxygen molecules. The nitrogen molecules are too large to go through the CMS and ultimately emerge as the desired product.

Membrane Nitrogen Generator

A membrane nitrogen generator filters air and passes it through bundles of technically advanced membrane fibers. The hollow fibers work like reverse filters. Nitrogen is separated by permeation. During this process, oxygen and water vapor are permeated into the atmosphere. At the same time, the nitrogen is discharged while under pressure.

The purity of the nitrogen can be controlled through the membrane bundles. Using different membrane sizes and raising or lowering the pressure results in varying degrees of nitrogen purity. The purity levels obtained with a membrane nitrogen generator usually are not as high as those obtained with a PSA generator.

Save on Production with an On-site Nitrogen System

Since 1999 NiGen has provided nitrogen systems to meet a variety of industry needs. We supply high-quality on-site nitrogen systems that can meet your company’s specific needs.

Our selection includes PSA nitrogen generators, membrane generators, mobile systems, and container nitrogen generators for ease-of-use.

Contact NiGen today for more product information.