24th December 2018
A major gas company has confirmed another price hike for laboratory gases, including nitrogen and helium. Is it time to start thinking about a nitrogen gas generator or hydrogen generator for your laboratory?
Lab Gas Price Bulletin December 2018
Effective from January 2019, Air Products customers in North America will see price increases of between 10-20% for a number of gases commonly used by laboratories, including nitrogen and helium.
The price increases won’t just be applied to the gases themselves, but also to monthly service charges and surcharges. Air Products and Chemicals Inc. have also indicated that the price increase for helium may be beyond 20%.
These price increases follow swiftly on the heels of Air Product’s last price hike for liquid nitrogen, liquid and bulk hydrogen, liquid argon, liquid oxygen and liquid carbon dioxide which took place very recently, in October 2018, and saw some prices rise by as much as 25%, as detailed in our November Lab Gas Price Bulletin.
For laboratories using these ever more expensive gases this is yet more bad news, but there is a way to combat the price increases. If you buy nitrogen gas for your laboratory, a nitrogen gas generator could be a much more cost-effective option for your laboratory gas supply.
A nitrogen gas generator generates gas on-demand so you would never need to buy nitrogen gas again. This is a much more manageable option for laboratory budgets as, following generator purchase, there are no unexpected gas price increases you need to account for in your budget. There are also no cylinder rental charges, delivery charges or administration costs to worry about.
There is some good news too for laboratories which use helium, even though helium cannot be generated from a gas generator. Some of the applications for which helium is used in the laboratory can also function just as well, or in some cases better, with hydrogen gas instead of helium. You can view a list of approved GC methods here which details where hydrogen can be used instead of helium. If your method can use hydrogen, you can combat the frequent helium prices increases and shortages by switching to hydrogen. Hydrogen can be generated so you could install a hydrogen generator in your lab and never have to purchase carrier gas, or suffer price increases, again.
Similar to a nitrogen gas generator, a hydrogen generator removes cylinder rental charges, delivery charges and administration costs. Gas generators on the whole are a much more convenient option for laboratory gas supply as they never run out, unlike gas cylinders which need to be changed over when they run out. Not only can this interrupt analysis, it also means that laboratory staff must be trained to move the heavy cylinders safely. A nitrogen or hydrogen generator will also produce a consistent purity of gas whereas a gas cylinder needs to be monitored for purity, with the last 10% of the cylinder gas being abandoned due to the contaminants which collect in the cylinder during use.
Gas generators are also much safer than gas cylinders as they generate gas as it is demanded by your analytical instrument, never storing enough to be dangerous in the very unlikely event of a leak. Gas cylinders, on the other hand, contain thousands of liters of compressed gas which means they can be very dangerous if they were to be damaged or leak. Damage to a gas cylinder could propel it with great force into the nearest wall, expensive instrument, or worse – a member of laboratory staff. A leak from a gas cylinder, depending on the gas contents, could also cause an explosion or asphyxiation.
With the ever increasing costs of laboratory gases it is clear that a gas generator is a much more cost-effective and budget-friendly option for laboratories who currently buy nitrogen gas or hydrogen gas. With gas generators also proving to be safer and more convenient than gas cylinders, there has never been a better time to upgrade your laboratory gas supply.