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How a Nitrogen gas generator is used in the food industry

Companies that generate their own nitrogen in-house with a nitrogen gas generator enhance production flexibility by ensuring they have the nitrogen they need, at the level of purity they need, when they need it.

Contact us to learn more

2 mar 2020

How a Nitrogen gas generator is used in the food industry

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Nitrogen in food packaging

Image showing a person standing in a factory setup

Nitrogen gas is inert, colorless and odorless. It’s widely used in food and beverage packaging as a non-chemical preservative because it can displace oxygen—the main culprit in the air that causes spoilage. Oxygen reacts with compounds like fat and sugars, producing a natural process (oxidation) that creates unpleasant odors and spoilage in food. Ever notice how an apple turns brown after it has been bitten? That’s oxidation taking place. Replacing oxygen in the packaging atmosphere with nitrogen helps prevent oxidation. Nitrogen preserves freshness, protects nutrients, and prevents growth of aerobic microbes. Packaged foods that benefit from the use of nitrogen include fatty meats, fish, nuts, coffee, vegetables and ready-to-eat products.

Other uses for Nitrogen in food processing

Ever notice how a new bag of potato chips seems partially filled with air? It’s not air. It’s nitrogen gas. During the packaging process, nitrogen pushes the oxygen out of the bags, extending the shelf life of the product. It also provides a cushion that protects the integrity and quality of the chips. Other applications of nitrogen in food processing including fluffing, head space replacement, blanketing of process operations to prevent unwanted combustion, and pest control and fumigation.

Nitrogen in beverage processing

Image showing application of compressed air and nitrogen solution to craft brewery

In the wine making industry, nitrogen allows a longer storage time while conserving the acidity, color, aromas and natural flavor of the wine. Because nitrogen is practically insoluble in water, it is ideal for transferring wine. For maximum hygiene, bottles are washed and dried with nitrogen before filling.

The drying goes faster than with normal air because a nitrogen gas generator produces very dry gas. After filling and before placing the cork, the bottle is purged with nitrogen to avoid the presence of residual air in the neck of the bottle. Other nitrogen applications in the beverages industry include controlled sparging of liquids, beer dispensing, beer bottling and canning, and purging of tanks and vessels.

How is Nitrogen produced?

The air we breathe is about 78% nitrogen. Higher purity nitrogen is generated by separating nitrogen molecules from other molecules within a clean, dry compressed air stream, resulting in a purified supply of nitrogen.

Using a Nitrogen gas generator to generate Nitrogen in-house

Companies that generate their own nitrogen in-house with a nitrogen gas generator enhance production flexibility by ensuring they have the nitrogen they need, at the level of purity they need, when they need it. Generate nitrogen in-house with a nitrogen gas generator and there is no worry about running out because there is no third-party supplier. This eliminates constant order processing, refills and delivery costs. It also frees up space otherwise needed to store nitrogen bottles (both full and empty).

Ask an air system professional about the best solution for generating nitrogen in-house.