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What is membrane nitrogen technology and how does it work?

Nitrogen generator Membrane technology Membrane nitrogen generator

What is a Membrane Nitrogen Generator?

A membrane nitrogen generator allows companies to produce their own nitrogen gas (N₂). Essentially, these generators extract the N₂ contained in the air around us to a degree at which it can be used for a wide range of professional nitrogen applications – from food preservation to plastics injection molding, fire prevention, and many more.

Typically, these applications require a level of purity from 95% up to 99.5%. However, since our atmosphere “only” contains 78% nitrogen, a way had to be found to increase that concentration. This is done by removing the oxygen (21%) present in the air. 

There are two main ways in which businesses can accomplish this and produce their own N₂: membrane technology and pressure swing adsorption (PSA)You can learn all about PSA here.  For more about membrane technology, just keep reading… 

How Does Membrane Technology Work?

First, every nitrogen generator requires a compressor to supply the air from which the N₂ will be separated. A membrane nitrogen generator makes this separation happen with a membrane that consists of thousands of hollow polymer fibers. These fibers have a unique structure that allows only the oxygen and any remaining water vapors in the air to escape through its walls. This process is called “permeation”. Once outside the fibers, the O₂ is vented out of the membrane housing and disposed of outside or in a safe area. This leaves the N₂ inside the hollow fibers, ready to be collected at the outlet. With the water vapors removed, the produced nitrogen is very dry, which is an additional benefit for its professional applications.

The Many Benefits of Membrane Nitrogen Generators

membrane nitrogen generator

A membrane nitrogen generator offers a number of convincing benefits:

  • Energy savings through purity selection: Membrane generators allow users to set the exact purity their application requires, from 95% to 99.5% (for purities above 99.5%, a PSA generator is the more efficient option). This is an important benefit as a higher purity requires higher air consumption and thus more energy. That means the needless over-specification of nitrogen purity inflates users’ operational costs. The ability to set the right nitrogen purity allows most to keep their energy use and expenses in check. 
  • A sustainable solution: Self-producing nitrogen eliminates the transportation emissions that inherently come with purchased gas deliveries. And if paired up with a green energy source, an on-site generation system allows companies to become a zero-carbon producer of truly green nitrogen.

  • Steadfast quality: Membrane generators provide a continuous supply of nitrogen with a stable purity, safeguarding process and production quality.

  • Low-maintenance and a long lifetime: The power of a membrane nitrogen generator lies in its simplicity. Its constant-flow separation process minimizes maintenance needs as it features no moving parts. It also allows the generator to operate reliably in high-vibration areas.

  • A low-key presence: Membrane N₂ generators have a small footprint and are very quiet. They can be installed right on the production floor.

  • Ease of use: Start-up and commissioning is fast and straightforward. In addition, membrane generators can also be installed in a modular fashion and are therefore a good choice for companies that want to scale up their N₂ generation.