Compact low-flow membrane nitrogen generators

1st April 2019
Posted By : Alex Lynn
Compact low-flow membrane nitrogen generators

The latest addition to its family of nitrogen generators, Atlas Copco’s new NGMs 1–3 membrane technology units offer an efficient, compact and simple low-cost on-site solution for low-flow N2 requirements with the added benefits of minimal maintenance and operational costs.

Stef Lievens, Business Line Manager of Industrial Air at Atlas Copco Compressors UK, commented: “The innovative design of the NGMs units provides a cost-efficient, on-demand source of nitrogen, with purities ranging from 95% up to 99.9%. This makes them ideally suited to applications as diverse as body-shop operations and tyre inflation, R&D laboratory procedures – particularly for LSMC (Liquid Chromatography Mass Spectrometry, as well as safety blanketing in hazardous environments, and many other general industrial uses.”

The NGMs generator unit consists of one or multiple high-performance membrane modules that are combined to achieve the nominal inlet flow. This ensures the maximum output of compressed nitrogen for the minimum input of compressed air in a wide range of operating conditions.

Dry compressed inlet air is separated into component gases by passing it through semi-permeable membranes consisting of bundles of extremely small individual hollow fibres packed into a limited space. This provides a very large membrane surface area to produce a relatively high-volume product stream.

Oxygen, water vapour and other trace gases permeate the membrane fibre and are discharged through a permeate port. Nitrogen is contained within the membrane and flows through the outlet port. As water vapour also permeates through the membrane, the nitrogen gas stream is very dry, with dewpoints as low as -50°C.

In order to allow continuous operation during their extensive lifetime, the nitrogen generators are equipped with a two-stage premium pre-filtration system to ensure an inlet air quality of [1:-:1] according to ISO8573-1:2010. This eliminates the risk of the membrane being damaged by a low-quality compressed air supply, poor start-up or unexpected shut-down.

The generators are supplied as an all-in-one, integrated package complete with filters. An oxygen sensor is an optional feature. Fitted with pressure gauges to ensure accurate system monitoring at all times, the ready-to-use units are housed in a fully enclosed protective canopy. No specialist installation or commissioning is required, only a supply of dry compressed air.

Maximum uptime is assured with features such extremely fast start-up, the NGMs 1–3 generator takes only a few seconds to produce nitrogen at the outlet, and continuous availability of nitrogen 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Added to which is zero performance loss at high ambient temperatures, and the very low service requirement, limited to just the oxygen sensor and the built-in filters.

There are three models in the new NGMs range, with their volume and nitrogen purity outputs related to the number of high-performance, highly durable, non-ageing membrane modules installed. 

Atlas Copco’s membrane nitrogen generators are flexible enough to adapt to specific applications, offering N2 desired purities according to need from 95% up to 99.9% (residual oxygen content levels from fiver percent up to 0.1%). With this versatility, combined with low operating costs attributed to an industry-low air factor, these new low-flow generators offer an attractive return on capital investment.

The NGMs 1–3 generators complement Atlas Copco’s existing range of on-site gas solutions, including both nitrogen and oxygen generators. Its nitrogen generators are available in both membrane and PSA technologies and are offered as low-investment entry models and high-end versions that both ensure the lowest total cost of ownership.

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