28th April 2017

The Evolution of Laboratory Gas Supply

From arriving at the laboratory via horse and cart to being generated on-site, laboratory gas supply has certainly evolved over the years.

Evolution of nitrogen gas gif

In this blog we look at how the supplies of nitrogen and hydrogen gasses in particular have changed.

Nitrogen gas was discovered by the Scottish physician Daniel Rutherford in 1772. His discovery occurred when he removed oxygen and carbon dioxide from air and demonstrated that the remaining gas could not support living organisms or combustion. Nitrogen is the fifth most abundant element in the universe and makes up about 78% of the earth's atmosphere.

In 1671, Robert Boyle discovered and described the reaction between iron filings and dilute acids, which results in the production of hydrogen gas. In 1766, Henry Cavendish was the first to recognize hydrogen gas as a discrete substance, by naming the gas from a metal-acid reaction "inflammable air".

The years between their respective discoveries saw hydrogen and nitrogen gases being delivered to laboratories in a variety of ways. When they were first being used by labs they were delivered via horse and cart. Laboratory gas deliveries got a bit speedier from 1955 onwards when they began being delivered in cannisters by truck.

Now, gas supply to laboratories all over the world is the best it has ever been thanks to gas generators. With a gas generator, there is no need for deliveries at all as labs can generate gas on demand so it's always available immediately, whenever it is needed.


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