21st July 2016
Laboratory nitrogen: keeping it simple
For decades laboratories have relied on deliveries of nitrogen cylinders to obtain nitrogen gas for their analytical instruments. However, there are a growing number of laboratory managers who are turning their attention to cost, workflow efficiency, safety and energy consumption in the lab with regard to their gas supply.
For these laboratory managers an on-site nitrogen generator is now the method of choice for supplying their lab’s instruments, and the reasons are simple.
COST - An on-site nitrogen gas generator can be purchased for a relatively modest up-front cost, especially considering the cost savings which can be realised. A gas generator can remove the requirement for gas cylinder deliveries (which depending on how close the lab is to its nearest gas cylinder supply centre can be prohibitively expensive). There are also administrative costs to be considered when ordering cylinders which can free up precious lab workers' time.
WORKFLOW - Time is one of the most crucial benefits to a gas generator, beyond saving time for laboratory analysts to maintain stock levels, there are also further workflow benefits. These include having a stable and consistent nitrogen source which does not run out mid-analysis and removing the risk of sample contamination from diminishing purity as cylinders reach the end of their capacity. There is also no need for cylinders to be changed over which can be a nuisance for laboratory personnel especially if high volumes of nitrogen are required for the lab’s particular application.
SAFETY - Changing over cylinders also poses a safety risk which labs could avoid if gas generators supply their instruments instead. For lab managers this is a growing concern as lab workers carrying awkward and heavy cylinders around a lab are, quite frankly, an accident waiting to happen.
ENERGY EFFICIENCY - There are also energy savings to be found by labs when changing gas supply from nitrogen cylinders to nitrogen generators. A 2010 study by the European Industrial Gases Association estimated that gas supplied from a nitrogen generator used 30% less electricity per volume at 99.9% purity than a nitrogen production plant. For analysis using 98% purity, this figure reaches up to 70% less electricity. There is a further benefit for those labs working with gloveboxes and desiccators in that nitrogen generators allow users to select their exact oxygen requirements, knowing the exact oxygen content is vital for these labs.
Peak Scientific have been engineering gas generator solutions for laboratory instruments for two decades and have become world-renowned for developing dedicated solutions for the leading mass spectrometer manufacturers as well as for the best on-site support available on the market.
Sources: Lab Manager