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Nitrogen is a clean, dry, inert gas primarily used for removing oxygen from products and/or processes and is used in a wide range of industries & applications.

Food

Most food products start to deteriorate from the moment they are harvested or prepared for packaging, being under attack from a multitude of spoilage mechanisms. By flushing, storing and/or packing with nitrogen, oxygen that many of these micro-organisms need in order to survive and multiply, is removed and the spoilage process is significantly reduced. Prepared salads and vegetables, fresh chilled ready meals, meat, poultry, fish, dairy produce (including cheese), breads, coffee as well as snack foods such as potato chips and nuts can all benefit from ‘modified atmosphere packaging’ (or MAP as it is often referred to).

By using nitrogen gas from a Parker generator, the product shelf life is increased and the appearance and quite often taste, is also improved.

In addition to MAP, nitrogen is also used for ‘controlled atmosphere storage’ of fresh fruits and vegetables, sparging and blanketing food oils as well as bulk powders, cereals and liquid ingredients.

Beverage

Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and ingredients can suffer similar spoilage mechanisms to food, however one of the most significant threats to product quality is oxidisation which adversely affects product taste. Beer and wine can absorb unwanted dissolved oxygen throughout the production process. In addition, oxygen can also reduce the effectiveness of natural or added vitamin C which maybe used in fruit juices.

Parker nitrogen gas generators provide an ideal cost effective solution for all of the processes involved in beverage production including:

• Blanketing
• Sparging
• Bottling
• Kegging
• Purging
• Packing
• Pressure transfer
 

Lasers

Laser Cutting: By far the largest use of nitrogen gas within this industry sector is for CO2 laser cutting. Nitrogen gas is used as an ‘assist gas’ to prevent oxidisation or discolouration and to blow away the molten material from the cut edge. It is also used in certain types of laser cutting machine as a ‘purge gas’ to ensure the laser beam guide path from the resonator (where the beam is generated), to the cutting head, is free of contamination that could otherwise affect the power or alter the shape of the beam.

Laser Abiation: Nitrogen is used to expel fumes and blanket delicate electronic circuits where a laser beam is used to erode pathways on micro printed circuit boards.

Laser Eye Surgery: Nitrogen is used as a beam purge and pneumatics gas on Eximer laser machines which are used in the corrective treatment of eyesight defects.

Chemicals

The chemical components of products such as paint, dye, resin and varnish can often be flammable, oxidative or both. Removing oxygen from the storage, manufacture and packing process of such chemicals can help to prevent fire and explosion. It can also help to avoid deterioration of the chemicals’ properties, colour index or surface skinning which may be caused through ‘oxidisation’.

Electronics

Electronics manufacturers are faced with an increasingly challenging set of criteria due to stringent RoHS and WEEE directives and the developments of safer, more environmentally friendly materials and production processes.One area where nitrogen is extensively used is soldering, especially with the advent of the new generation of directive compliant “lead-free” alloys.

Parker has considerable expertise in providing nitrogen gas solutions for electronics manufacture including:

• Wave soldering
• Selective soldering
• Re-flow ovens
• IC production
• Forming gases
• Burn-in ovens
• Deionised water storage
• Quartz crystal oscillators
• Inert storage of components
 

Pharmaceutical, Research, and Academia

Whether in primary or secondary pharmaceutical product manufacture or as a centralised QA laboratory supply; within research establishments or universities and colleges, Parker can offer a solution to suit the critical demands of this industry sector.

For blanketing of pharmaceutical product ingredients and pressure transfer within reactor vessels, to micronising powders to prevent oxidisation or explosion, Parker nitrogen generators can cut costs, reduce risk and improve productivity.

Centralised laboratory systems remove the need to have high pressure cylinders within the working environment and the possibility of running out of gas during a QA analysis procedure. Parker nitrogen gas generators are typically used for analytical equipment such as LC/MS, GC, reaction blanketing within fume cupboards, solvent evaporation, ICP, ELSD, NMR and circular dichroism.

Safety In The Oil and Gas Industry

In the oil and gas industry, nitrogen is used to provide a low oxygen environment to prevent possible fire and explosion.

It is used for a wide variety of processes such as purging flammable gas compressor seals, ‘pigging’ or purging pipe-lines, blanketing storage tanks and vessels, flushing out flaring systems, well-head pressurising and catalytic reactor purging.

Due to their unique design, energy efficiency and compact size, Parker nitrogen gas generators can provide a stable, dependable and high quality nitrogen gas supply for use in some of the most inaccessible areas.

Heat Treatment

The oxidisation of materials undergoing heat treatment is a constant problem. Not only can oxygen create an unwanted discolouring oxide layer on the surface of the component, it can affect the molecular properties of the material altering its strength and durability.

Nitrogen gas is commonly used to exclude oxygen from heat treatment furnaces and ovens. Parker can supply nitrogen gas generation systems to replace expensive bulk vessel liquid supplies for many heat treatment processes. Typical applications include:

• Carburising
• Tempering
• Belt furnaces
• Batch furnaces
• Sintering
• Brazing
• Neutral hardening
• Gas quenching
 
• Annealing
• Vacuum ovens
• Normalising
 

In addition to applications for non-metallic materials such as pressurising autoclaves for Kevlar and carbon fibre based composites.

Aviation

Civil and military aircraft use nitrogen gas within several components. Tyres are generally inflated with nitrogen gas to prevent deflation caused by oxygen permeating through the tyre wall and reduce the risk of fire.

Undercarriage struts are basically an oil/compressed gas spring. Nitrogen is the inert choice for the gaseous component of the spring. The new generation of aircraft, with centre wing fuel tanks, require inert gas blanketing due to more stringent safety regulations.

Air from the engine compressor section is fed to a purpose manufactured Parker nitrogen module to provide a continuous stream of gas to blanket the tank.

In addition to on-board nitrogen, autoclaves used in the manufacture of composite material airframe sections are pressurised with nitrogen gas. Undercarriage and tyre manufacturing / maintenance facilities use nitrogen gas along with escape slide cylinder filling stations.

Fire Prevention and Archive Protection

From the preservation of treasures for the generations after us, to preventing essential data destruction due to fire, Parker nitrogen generators provide a unique solution.

Oxygen depleted air can be pumped into buildings that house treasures and archives or computer stored data to help prevent total loss caused by fire. Museum pieces, paintings, artefacts, furniture and valuable fabrics can all be protected.

In general, only a modest reduction in normal ambient oxygen levels is enough to prevent fire. At 16% oxygen content, archives are protected whilst intermittent human exposure to these levels will have no adverse effects.

Training and Fitness

Altitude training can be of great benefit in certain sports or activities, where it is permitted. Reducing the oxygen levels breathed can, over time, increase the red blood cell count and the body’s ability to take up even more oxygen at sea level. One of the main problems can be not living in, or close to, a mountain range area to achieve the desired altitude.

Using a nitrogen generator to provide oxygen depleted air along with a hypoxic enclosure, can simulate training at high altitudes within a sports or research facility. In addition, this type of equipment is also valuable for clinical research which studies the effects of oxygen starvation on human physiology.