Nitrogen’s inert qualities make it an excellent blanketing gas in a variety of applications. Nitrogen blanketing is used to keep flammable or explosive substances and liquids away from air. Certain chemicals, solid surfaces, and stored food products have qualities that must be safeguarded from degradation caused by ambient oxygen and moisture. These goods are protected by storing them in a nitrogen environment. Other words for displacement of air and nitrogen blanketing include “inerting” and “padding.”
“Sparging” with nitrogen is the process of bubbling nitrogen gas through a liquid to remove undesired volatile components, such as volatile organic compounds (VOC), that may be required to meet pollution reduction requirements.
Certain chemicals are difficult to pulverize or shred because they are resistant, or the heat created by mechanical procedures such as grinding degrades the materials. Before entering a size reduction process, liquid nitrogen can be used to freeze soft or stiff objects. Cold vaporized nitrogen can be used during grinding to keep materials cool (and in an inert atmosphere). Cryogenic grinding is utilized in a variety of applications, including the manufacture of finely ground medications, polymers, and pigments, as well as tire shredding in recycling operations.
Metals Manufacturing Uses of Nitrogen
Nitrogen is used in the manufacture of steel and other metals to treat the melt and as a shield gas in the heat treatment of iron, steel, and other metals. It is also utilized as a process gas in conjunction with other gases for carbonization and nitriding reduction.
“Flash” or “fins” on cast metal can be removed by freezing them in liquid nitrogen, which makes them brittle and allows them to be broken off mechanically.
Manufacturing and Construction Uses
Shrink fitting is a novel alternative to conventional expansion fitting. Instead of heating the outer metal portion, liquid nitrogen is used to cool the inner section, causing the metal to shrink and allow it to be inserted. When the metal cools to room temperature, it expands to its original size, resulting in an extremely tight fit.
Cooling concrete with liquid nitrogen results in improved cured qualities.
When performing construction operations in soft, water-soaked ground, such as tunnel building beneath streams, liquid nitrogen can efficiently freeze the earth. Pipes are drilled into the ground, and liquid nitrogen is pumped through them beneath the earth’s surface. When nitrogen leaves the soil, it vaporizes, removing heat and freezing the soil.
Chemicals, Pharmaceuticals and Petroleum Uses
Nitrogen is used in refineries, petrochemical plants, and marine tankers to purge dangerous vapors and gases from equipment, tanks, and pipelines (for example, after completing a pipeline transfer operation or ending a production run) and to maintain an inert and protective atmosphere in tanks storing flammable liquids.
During maintenance, cold nitrogen gas is utilized to cool reactors laden with catalyst. The cooling time can be significantly decreased.
In the pharmaceutical business, cooling reactors (and the materials inside) to low temperatures allows for greater control of side-reactions in complex reactions. Because it can achieve rapid temperature drop and easily maintain the required cold reaction temperatures, liquid nitrogen is frequently utilized to provide the necessary refrigeration. To transport refrigeration created by vaporizing liquid nitrogen to the shell of the reactor vessel, reactor cooling and temperature control systems typically use a circulating low-temperature heat transfer fluid. In specifically engineered heat exchangers, liquid nitrogen is vaporized and transferred refrigeration to the circulating heat transfer fluid.
During well completion, liquid nitrogen is used to “frac” natural gas bearing rock formations, particularly tight gas formations such as shale gas and coal bed methane, where water-based procedures should be avoided. Nitrogen is also utilized to keep pressure in oil and gas production formations. Nitrogen, unlike carbon dioxide, which is also employed for pressurization, has minimal affinity for liquid hydrocarbons, therefore it accumulates and remains in the gas cap.
Nitrogen is used as an inert gas to push liquids through lines, clear lines, and force “pigs” through pipelines to sweep out one item before transporting another.
Rubber and Plastics Industry Uses
When materials are chilled to such low temperatures, they become rigid and brittle. This feature makes it possible to remove “flash” or “fins” from cast plastics and rubber. The castings are chilled with liquid nitrogen, and the flash is removed mechanically.
Food and Beverages
Liquid nitrogen’s high cold enables for very quick freezing of food items, resulting in less cell damage from ice crystals and improved look, taste, and texture. Cryogenic tunnel and spiral freezers that are well-designed capture cooling from liquid vaporization as well as cold nitrogen gas as it passes through the freezer.
When storing substances such as vegetable oil and wines, nitrogen’s inert characteristics can be exploited to prevent against oxidation loss by releasing any air entrained in the liquid (“sparging”) and protecting liquids in storage tanks by filling the vapor gap (“blanketing”).
Nitrogen (including nitrogen combined with CO2 and oxygen) is used in transport vehicles and Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) to protect packaged foods from oxidation, mold, insect infestation, and moisture migration.
Health Care Uses
Nitrogen is used as a shield gas in the packaging of some medicines to prevent oxidation or moisture adsorption from causing deterioration.
Nitrogen is used to freeze blood and viruses in preparation for vaccination. It’s also used to freeze cattle sperm, which may be kept for years. The rapid freezing caused by the severe cold reduces cell wall damage. In some MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) machines, liquid nitrogen is utilized to pre-cool the low temperature magnets before employing much more expensive liquid helium for final cooling.
In cryosurgery, liquid nitrogen is used to remove damaged tissue.
Miscellaneous Uses of Nitrogen
Nitrogen is utilized directly as a coolant for numerous products during harsh environmental testing, or as a refrigeration source for chilling circulating dry air.
|Atomic Mass||14.0067 u|
|Density||1.2506 kg/m³ (at 0°C)|
|Phase at Room Temp.||Gas|
|Electron Configuration||1s² 2s² 2p³|
|Electronegativity||3.04 (Pauling scale)|
|Specific Heat||1.040 J/g·K|
|Thermal Conductivity||0.02583 W/(m·K)|
|Common Isotopes||¹⁴N, ¹⁵N|
|Uses||Fertilizers, airbags, refrigerants, ammonia production, etc.|
Nitrogen (N2) Applications
|Inert Gas for Packaging||Nitrogen is used to displace oxygen in food packaging to extend shelf life and prevent spoilage.|
|Industrial Blanket Gas||Nitrogen is used as an inert atmosphere in various industrial processes, such as welding, heat treatment, and electronics manufacturing.|
|Chemical Industry||Nitrogen is used in chemical synthesis and as a purge gas to prevent the oxidation of reactive chemicals.|
|Fire Suppression||Nitrogen gas is used as a fire suppression agent in environments where water or other extinguishing agents are unsuitable.|
|Electronics Manufacturing||Nitrogen is used in the semiconductor industry for purging and cooling during the manufacturing process.|
|Food and Beverage Industry||Nitrogen is used in breweries to maintain pressure in kegs and to dispense beer. It is also used to carbonate beverages.|
|Pharmaceutical Industry||Nitrogen is used in pharmaceutical manufacturing processes to prevent the degradation of sensitive compounds.|
|Automotive and Aerospace||Nitrogen is used to fill tires to prevent oxidation and maintain tire pressure over a longer period. It is also used in aircraft tires.|
|Oil and Gas Industry||Nitrogen is used in well drilling and completion operations to prevent the influx of formation fluids. It is also used for pressure testing pipelines.|
|Laser Cutting and Laser Marking||Nitrogen gas is used as an assist gas in laser cutting and as a purging gas in laser marking applications.|
|Air Conditioning and Refrigeration||Nitrogen is used for pressure testing and purging during the installation and maintenance of HVAC systems and refrigeration units.|
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