Countless industries such as chemical, food & beverage, electronics, pharmaceuticals and laser cutting, are depend on Nitrogen (N₂) as an integral part of their production and manufacturing processes. This inert gas is not reactive, making Nitrogen ideal for applications such as blanketing and it is also widely used as a purging gas.

Customers are under constant pressure to produce more and to do so more efficiently, while reducing costs and ensuring worker safety and environmental compliancy. “In a constant effort to assist customers in achieving this, we are driven to develop innovative products and state-of-the art technologies that offer ever higher efficiencies and performance,” says JC Lombard, Business Line Manager for Atlas Copco Compressor Technique’s Oil-free Air division. “The new Atlas Copco NGP+ 160-1300 PSA Nitrogen generator is a great example of our commitment to this strategy. This Premium N₂ generator with Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) technology offers the most complete scope of Nitrogen supply at the highest energy efficiency. In addition, the smart NGP⁺ reduces energy consumption by matching its air consumption with the Nitrogen output required.”

“With savings of up to 80%, there is simply not a more cost-effective, convenient and safe way to have an unlimited supply of Nitrogen than by producing this gas on-site, giving the user control of both gas supply and quality,” continues Lombard. “Nitrogen is freely available in the air so, in addition to a gas generator, all that is needed for onsite production is a compressed air system, which is commonly used by most processing and manufacturing plants.”

The numerous advantages offered by fully automated on-site Nitrogen production make an investment in an Atlas Copco Nitrogen generator a sound financial and business decision. Lombard unpacks six major benefits of on-site gas generation: “Firstly, users benefit from the lowest price per volume of gas because they can generate the exact gas purity they require, thus avoiding payment for more expensive over specced-gas.” He explains that some applications such as tyre inflation and fire prevention require low purity levels (between 90 and 99%) while others like food & beverage or plastic moulding, require high levels (from 97 to 99.999%). The Atlas Copco NGP+ PSA Nitrogen generator is capable of delivering 95-99.999% N₂ purity to meet the most stringent requirements. Moreover, the generator’s advanced purity controller enables users to easily select their gas purity of choice.

“Users are also no longer tied into complex long-term contracts, so their costs are stable and predictable. In addition to the elimination of ordering and storage logistics, the risk of halted production due to supply shortage is also removed.” Lombard also points out that if they need more gas, they simply run the generator a little longer. “And as users pay only for the gas they use, they do not pay for wasted gas.”

Emphasising the safety aspect, Lombard notes that there is no need for workers to move heavy pressurised bottles or work with ultra-cold liquid gas. “And finally, the elimination of purchased gas storage and transportation help to reduce users’ carbon footprint.”

With a pressure range of 4-13 bar (up to 300 bar with a booster), NGP⁺ generators deliver flows of up to 2870 Nm³/h. Central to the machine is PSA technology which is responsible for delivering high levels of Nitrogen purity (from 97 to 99.999%). To produce Nitrogen, the Nitrogen generator separates Nitrogen molecules from the oxygen molecules within the compressed air. This is achieved by PSA which traps oxygen from the compressed air stream using adsorption. Adsorption takes place when molecules bind themselves to an adsorbent, in this case the oxygen molecules attached to a carbon molecular sieve (CMS). This process happens in two separate pressure vessels (tower A and B), each filled with a CMS, which switch between the separation process and the regeneration process. Clean, dry compressed air enters tower A and, since oxygen molecules are smaller than Nitrogen molecules, they will enter the pores of the carbon sieve. As Nitrogen molecules on the other hand cannot fit into the pores, they will bypass the carbon molecular sieve. As a result, users end up with Nitrogen of desired purity. 

The advanced intuitive controller, which features a purity alarm and connectivity options, enables feed air monitoring and interception. The SMARTLINK integration provides a simple but effective way to increase reliability, decrease downtime and identify energy optimisation opportunities. Up to 40% additional savings can be achieved with Atlas Copco’s proprietary Variable Cycle Saver algorithm. The plug-and-play NGP⁺ is delivered ready-to-use; automatic start-up and a stand-by mode ensure easy, user-friendly operation and avoid energy waste. The NGP+ Nitrogen generator’s supreme energy efficiency, coupled with all the benefits of saving time and cost, a safer work space and reduced environmental impact add up to lowest total cost of ownership. “By generating Nitrogen on-site with Atlas Copco’s premium Nitrogen generator, will assist users in achieving their growth, productivity, safety and environmental sustainability goals,” concludes Lombard.