Nitrogen Generators: Why Buy LN2, When You Can Produce It Yourself?
For businesses that rely on cryogenics–from cryotherapy centers and IVF clinics, to pharma producers and food storage facilities–nitrogen is probably one of your top operating costs. And, as suppliers continue to raise their prices, it’s only getting more expensive.
The most frustrating part? Nitrogen is all around us, in the air, in the atmosphere. It’s right there. And yet, most businesses still pay someone else to harvest it, store it, drive it across town and pass on all the related costs.
Wouldn’t it be great if, instead of relying on a supplier, you could just harvest the nitrogen in the air around you?
Actually, you can. While most businesses have traditionally relied on suppliers, a growing number are fed-up with the rising costs, hassle and inefficiency. Now, they’re producing their own nitrogen, on-site, cutting out the middleman and saving their business time and resources, while gaining some valuable independence. How?
These machines—which look like the kind of systems you might find at a micro-brewery—are nothing new. But their popularity is rising among businesses within a variety of industries, and, when you take a closer look at the potential savings, it’s easy to see why.
Should you invest in a nitrogen generator? Let’s take a look at the benefits and drawbacks.
How (Most) Nitrogen Generators Work
You can’t necessarily make nitrogen. But you can harvest it. A nitrogen generator extracts nitrogen from the air around you and renders it in a usable form, so you can use it to power various cryogenic applications.
It typically works like this: The generator intakes air, which contains oxygen, nitrogen and other particles. Then, using pressure, the device pushes the air through a substance that only allows nitrogen to pass through. (Think of it like a filter that keeps the coffee grains from falling into the pot, while allowing the coffee itself to flow through.) Once this process is done, you have pure nitrogen (99%+) that can be stored in containers and used at your convenience.
How These Devices Can Save You Money
When you purchase nitrogen from a supplier, you pay for more than just the nitrogen. You pay for the storage, the transportation, the labor, the administration fees, the equipment rentals and all the other costs associated with producing nitrogen off-site and bringing it to your business. In addition, you’re probably losing some of the nitrogen you’ve purchased. On average, about 10% of the LN2 in each rented cylinder is returned to the supplier, unused.
Those costs add up, making nitrogen one of your top overhead expenses.
When you invest in a nitrogen generator, you cut out the middleman. No more equipment rentals, no more delivery costs—just a one-time purchase, and then you can produce exactly as much nitrogen as you need, as often as you need it.
Nitrogen generators are a substantial investment, which might be a problem for small businesses on a tight budget. However, these systems typically pay for themselves within 1-2 years. If you have the capital (and the space), a nitrogen generator is worth it.
Lower long-term cost. While a nitrogen generator is a substantial upfront investment, it will likely save you money in the long run. When you produce your own nitrogen, you no longer have to pay for delivery, storage or any of the other fees associated with suppliers. You don’t have to worry about the rising market cost of nitrogen, either.
Greater independence. Purchasing nitrogen from a supplier may sound convenient, in theory, but it really means that your business is dependent on their operation, restricted by their supplies and their schedule. With a nitrogen generator, you can produce nitrogen on your own schedule, harvesting as much or as little as you need. Even if the supply chain is disrupted—as it was, across many markets, during the early months of COVID-19—you will always have your own reliable supply of nitrogen on-hand.
Less waste. As we mentioned above, some nitrogen is usually left in the chamber when you return it to your supplier. With your own generator, you won’t waste a drop.
Lower carbon footprint. Now that you are your own nitrogen supplier, canisters will no longer be trucked to and from your business, reducing your overall carbon footprint.
Do you have the space? If you’re already working in tight quarters, you may not have room for an additional machine. However, there are some highly compact nitrogen generators with a minimal footprint, which may be able to fit within your space.
Do you have the capital? A nitrogen generator can significantly reduce your operating costs; most systems pay for themselves (when compared to the costs you would otherwise pay a supplier) within 1-2 years. However, they require a relatively large upfront investment, so you’ll have to weigh short-term costs vs. long-term savings.
Before You Buy
Is a nitrogen generator a smart investment for your business? Probably. However, there are dozens of different models on the market, each one offering different features and benefits—and, if you’re going to make the most of your investment, it’s important that you pick a machine that meets your needs.
At Rutherford & Titan, our team of consultants know the ins and outs of the cryogenic industry, and we can help you find the right nitrogen generator for your business. Contact us today for a free consultation.