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What is a nitrogen generator used for? A guide to their industrial applications

In the ever-changing world of industrial processes, efficiency and reliability are the name of the game. As a UK-based leader in compressed air systems, nitrogen generators, and air compressor spare parts, the team at Glaston is here to shed light on the incredible benefits of nitrogen generators in various industries across the United Kingdom. So, join us on a journey through the fascinating realm of nitrogen generators. In this article, we’ll discuss nitrogen generators and the various industrial applications they fit within.

What is a nitrogen generator used for?

To put it simply, a nitrogen generator is a device designed to produce nitrogen gas from the surrounding air. Nitrogen, the unassuming but indispensable gas that makes up a significant chunk of Earth’s atmosphere, has a range of applications in the industrial world. But what is it used for?

How nitrogen generators work

Picture this: you have a limitless supply of air, but what you really need is pure nitrogen. Nitrogen generators make it possible to generate nitrogen through two primary methods: Pressure swing adsorption (PSA) and membrane separation.

  • Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA): Think of PSA as a filter for nitrogen. In this method, a unique absorbent material captures oxygen and other gases when air is pressurised and passes through it. As a result, oxygen is trapped while nitrogen passes through, leaving us with the pure nitrogen we want.
  • Membrane Separation: Membrane nitrogen generators are like the gatekeepers of purity. They employ semi-permeable membranes to separate oxygen from nitrogen based on their size and molecular properties. The result? High-purity nitrogen for your industrial applications.

Let’s explore the types mentioned above in a bit more detail:

  • PSA Nitrogen Generators: These are ideal for applications requiring high purity levels. This makes PSA generators a popular choice in pharmaceutical and electronics manufacturing. They offer consistent nitrogen quality and are energy-efficient, making them an economical option for UK industries.
  • Membrane Nitrogen Generators: These generators are best suited for applications where a slightly lower purity level is acceptable, like the food and beverage industry. They are simple to operate, require minimal maintenance, and offer a cost-effective nitrogen solution.

Industries that utilise nitrogen generators

Industries have wholeheartedly embraced the versatility of nitrogen generators. Here are a few sectors that benefit significantly:

Chemical industry

Nitrogen plays a crucial role in preventing oxidation and combustion in chemical processes. PSA nitrogen generators ensure the purity needed for safe and efficient chemical manufacturing.


In the pharmaceutical world, precision is critical. Nitrogen generators ensure the consistent purity required for drug formulation and packaging, safeguarding the quality of medications produced in the UK.

Food and beverage

Ever wonder why your crisps stay fresh and crunchy? Nitrogen helps preserve the quality of packaged food products, reducing spoilage and extending shelf life.


The electronics industry relies on nitrogen for soldering and wave soldering processes, where precise control of purity is essential to avoid defects in electronic components.


Ensuring the safety of passengers and aircraft is non-negotiable in the aviation sector. Nitrogen generators are used to fill aircraft tires, reducing the risk of tire explosions during take-off and landing.

Advantages of using nitrogen generators in industrial applications

  • Cost-effective: Nitrogen generators remove the need for costly nitrogen deliveries and storage tanks. You generate nitrogen on-site, reducing operational costs and minimising downtime.
  • Convenience: With a nitrogen generator at your disposal, you can have a steady supply of nitrogen whenever and wherever you need it. No more waiting for deliveries or worrying about running out at a crucial moment.
  • Safety: On-site nitrogen generation eliminates the safety hazards associated with handling and storing high-pressure gas cylinders. It’s a safer and more environmentally friendly option for your team and the planet.

Choosing the right nitrogen generator

Selecting the perfect nitrogen generator for your industrial application is similar to picking your takeaway option of the week – it requires careful consideration. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Purity level and flow rate: When choosing your nitrogen generator, determine the required purity level and flow rate for your specific application. PSA generators are better suited for high-purity needs, while membrane generators are more economical for lower-purity requirements, so make sure you make the right choice for your application. 
  • Maintenance and operating costs: Assess the overall cost of ownership. Consider factors like energy consumption, maintenance requirements, and the lifespan of the generator. A cost-benefit analysis will help you make an informed decision.

Here at Glaston, we know a thing or two about nitrogen generators so we hope this guide has helped to provide you with everything you need to know. Our engineers are highly qualified and have extensive experience in the installation and maintenance of industrial nitrogen generators.

If you want to learn more about our product range and services, don’t hesitate to contact us today at 01695 51010.

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