22nd June 2017
Nitrogen Safety Concerns
Safety in the lab is of paramount importance to Peak, particularly when it comes to our gas generators.
From the inital product development to the rigorous quality assurance all of our generators pass through before leaving our ISO:9001 accredited manufacturing facility, the safety features of our generators are put through their paces alongside the high performance standards we adhere to at Peak.
The two main safety concerns regarding nitrogen generators are myths which can be easily dispelled, as they have been below.
Myth one: A nitrogen generator could 'starve' a lab of nitrogen, thus increasing the oxygen concentration to a dangerous level.
This would not happen as:
- Nitrogen used by Peak generators is vented back into the room, so there is no change in the overall level of oxygen or nitrogen in the room, the gases are only temporarily separated.
- We have tested the level of oxygen surrounding our generators and it is not possible to detect a raised level of the gas more than 150mm from the generator, because oxygen diffuses rapidly into the lab atmosphere.
- If the oxygen content of the air in the room were to rise over time, the purity of nitrogen from the generator would gradually decline. The output from all of Peak's nitrogen generators is consistent over time, demonstrating that the overall concentrations of nitrogen and oxygen in the lab atmosphere are not changed by the generator.
Myth two: A nitrogen generator could 'starve' a lab of oxygen by depleting the concentration of oxygen by increasing the concentration of nitrogen.
Again, this would not happen as:
- Nitrogen used by the instrument is vented back into the room, so there is no change in the overall level of oxygen or nitrogen in the room, the gases are only temporarily separated.
- The volume of oxygen required to change the % level of O2 in a typical lab would be thousands of litres. An appreciable change in % level of oxygen, would require nitrogen to be supplied to a separate room, and for the generator to be in a hermetically sealed room, without any ventilation.
It is clear that nitrogen generators are a safer option than dewars or cylinders, since they maintain the level of oxygen in the lab atmosphere. The main danger with lab gases is oxygen depletion. A single litre of liquid N2 from a cylinder or dewar will expand to 700L of gas. Therefore, a small spillage can result in a rapid change in atmospheric O2 content, with potentially dangerous consequences for lab personnel. With a Peak gas generator, nitrogen gas is produced on-demand as your application requires it and not stored up as a potential danger, keeping the lab and lab personnel safe.
There are many benefits of a gas generator when compared with gas cylinders beyond just safety too. Want to more? Read our interview with Dr. Ed Connor here.
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