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Is generating nitrogen in my lab worthwhile?

It seems like more and more production labs have transitioned from purchasing nitrogen tanks to generating their own high quality nitrogen in-house. If you're in a lab that hasn't jumped on the bandwagon of utilizing a nitrogen generator, you might be left wondering if you're missing out. Before purchasing the latest generator model, just because everyone else has, it's important to evaluate the pros and cons so you can be sure it's a worthwhile investment for your lab.

The desirability of a nitrogen generator is dependent on two things:
     1) Economic benefits - determined by how much nitrogen your lab consumes on a regular basis
     2) Convenience - determined by the amount of difficulties that nitrogen tanks cause you and your team

The most straightforward way to verify if a new solution is worthwhile, is to determine if it will actually save you money. Generally, when purchasing a new piece of equipment, companies will calculate the payback period, or the length of time it will take to recover the initial cost of the investment. In order to calculate this, you need to know roughly how much nitrogen you consume on an annual basis, and at what cost. Since this can be quite difficult to calculate, we've created a handy payback period calculator for the NITRO-GEN, our best-selling nitrogen generator

After answering a few questions on your nitrogen usage and consumption, it will instantly calculate your estimated payback period if you were to purchase that specific generator model. In general, we find that labs who consume a medium to high amount of nitrogen will have a payback period of 6 years or less. Anything longer than this typically indicates a low gas usage, but this doesn't necessarily mean the a generator isn't a good fit for your lab. There are many other factors to consider.

The process of purchasing, storing, and handling nitrogen cylinders can be quite time consuming and labor intensive. Having to dedicate a closet or a corner of the lab to store the extra tanks or remembering to order more when you're running low are just minor inconveniences. However, it can become a serious complication when tank maintenance interferes with your productivity or worse yet, the reliability of your sample analysis.

Imagine you're concentrating down a batch of samples using a blowdown evaporator and your tank suddenly runs out of nitrogen. You're forced to stop the evaporation process, disconnect the empty tank, move it aside, bring in a new tank, recalibrate it, and hook it up to the evaporator. All the while, your samples are sitting in the open air with the risk of oxidizing or otherwise becoming contaminated.

By generating your own nitrogen in-house, you'll never have to worry about any of these things. Most generators are a simple "plug and play" design that can provide you with high purity nitrogen on demand, 24/7. No more lugging nitrogen tanks around or worrying if you'll run out. Acquiring a generator can simply ease these burdens and give you some peace of mind. 

So is generating nitrogen in your lab worthwhile? If your lab is surely going to earn back the initial monetary investment within a few years -- then absolutely. If your payback period is longer than you'd expect, it's important to also factor in how much time you'd be saving without any tank maintenance, or how many headaches you'd be avoiding by investing in an all-in-one solution. Determining a monetary value for things such as convenience or employee satisfaction plays an important role in this decision. 

If your current system works and nitrogen cylinders satisfy the needs of your lab, it's probably not worth the hassle of changing it. If it's not broken, don't fix it. But if a nitrogen generator would improve your overall workflow, it's certainly a constructive investment. Learn even more benefits to integrating a nitrogen generator to your lab.

For more information on nitrogen generators, check out this comprehensive guide: Nitrogen Generators: Everything You Need to Know


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