17th December 2018
Modern laboratories use a number of gases for various research purposes. One gas which is commonly used in labs is nitrogen. This blog will explain why laboratories use nitrogen and the various ways in which it can be purchased, such as via nitrogen generators and cylinders.
What should you know before you buy nitrogen gas?
Why do laboratories use nitrogen gas?
Nitrogen is an inert gas which means that it has low reactivity with other chemicals and elements. This means that it can be used for many types of analysis including Liquid Chromatography – Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS), Sample Evaporation and Evaporative Light Scattering Detectors.
What options are available for laboratories to buy nitrogen gas?
Nitrogen is typically supplied to laboratories in one of three ways:
• Nitrogen Dewar
• Nitrogen Cylinder
• Nitrogen Gas Generator
Dewars are used for bulk gas supply and are mainly found outside of the laboratory with the gas they contain being piped into the laboratory. This requires a piping infrastructure to be in place which can be an expensive addition to a lab. Nitrogen cylinders are one of the most common methods of gas supply and, although they are no longer the safest and most convenient option for laboratory gas, they are still widely used in labs around the world.
However, as many lab managers become aware of nitrogen generators and the many benefits which they bring to the laboratory, they are choosing gas generators to modernize their laboratory gas supply.
What are the benefits of a gas generator?
Gas generators continually provide a consistent purity of gas so you know that it can be relied on to enable your instrument to produce accurate results. With nitrogen gas cylinders it is advised to abandon the last 10% of the gas they contain as this can become contaminated with impurities as the cylinder is used.
With gas cylinders you don’t just have one cost when you buy nitrogen gas. In addition to paying for the gas itself, you must also rent the cylinder which it is stored in and pay for cylinder deliveries. On top of these costs, the cost of the gas is subject to market influence and frequent prices increases are almost inevitable, as is demonstrated by our Lab Gas Price Bulletins. In contrast, with a gas generator you have one up front cost and then never need to pay anything else for your gas – in fact, in cases of high gas usage gas generators can pay for themselves in as little as 18 months. Other than the purchase cost, the only other cost which will need to be factored into your budget is for annual maintenance of your gas generator. However, maintenance plan prices can usually be locked in for multiple years, making it very easy to factor maintenance costs into your budget.
Nitrogen gas generators are a safe gas supply solution as they produce gas on demand for your application, never storing an amount of nitrogen gas which could be unsafe in the event of a leak. On the other hand, if a nitrogen gas cylinder, which typically stores around 9000 litres of nitrogen, were to be damaged and leak, it could very quickly change the atmosphere within the laboratory, potentially resulting in asphyxiation.
Also, once a gas generator has been installed it never needs to be moved. As gas cylinders run out, they need to repeatedly be changed over which can be a challenge and safety concern for laboratory staff as gas cylinders are heavy and awkward to move. Anyone who is required to move or change nitrogen gas cylinders within the lab should be trained how to do so safely.
A nitrogen generator in your lab will generate gas whenever you need it to, at the push of a button. You won’t have to worry about your gas supply running out mid-analysis as can happen with cylinders. Moreover, when you chose the gas generator option when you buy nitrogen gas, you are eliminating all of the associated administration that comes part and parcel with using gas cylinders, such as placing repeated orders and arranging deliveries.
Thanks to their safety, convenience, consistency and cost it is clear that nitrogen generators are the most suitable option for laboratories who are looking to buy nitrogen gas. Peak Scientific provide nitrogen gas generators for a range of laboratory applications including LC-MS, Sample Evaporation, ELSD, MP-AES and more. You can view all of our nitrogen gas solutions here.
Need help finding a solution?
We are experts in our field - with over 20 years' worth of experience in pioneering cutting-edge gas generator technology, we have worked closely with leading instrument manufacturers to help you find a solution tailored to your specific needs.