Is a Nitrogen Generator Worth the Investment?

Mar 18, 2024

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Are you considering switching from a contract nitrogen supply to onsite nitrogen generation? You might be wondering if purchasing a nitrogen generator is worth the investment. Here are the pros and cons of contract supply vs. onsite generation for nitrogen gas, and how to know if onsite generation is right for your facility. 

How to Purchase Nitrogen: Nitrogen Generation vs. Contract Supply

If you use nitrogen gas for your processes, there are two ways to acquire it. You can purchase bottled or bulk N2 gas from a contract supplier, or you can make your own on-demand with an onsite nitrogen generator. 

Read more: How Does a Nitrogen Generator Work? 

How to Purchase Nitrogen: Nitrogen Generation vs. Contract Supply

Traditionally, many companies have relied on regular deliveries of bottled nitrogen for their industrial applications. This nitrogen is usually produced in large cryogenic plants and bottled as liquid N2. Contract supply may make sense if you use a limited and consistent amount of nitrogen in your operations. If you are using fewer than six gas cylinders or a single dewar per month, your usage may not justify the installation of a nitrogen generation system.

If your nitrogen usage exceeds this amount, or if your nitrogen gas demands are highly variable, it may be time to consider a nitrogen generator. With an onsite nitrogen generator, you can generate as much or as little N2 as you need, anytime you need it. 

Onsite generation is a great option for companies that:

  • Use more than 6 gas cylinders or 1 dewar of N2 weekly 
  • Don’t want to be locked into a contract for N2 delivery
  • Have variable needs for N2
  • Have limited storage space 
  • Want to maintain control of N2 purity
  • Are concerned about environmental sustainability 
  • Want to lower nitrogen gas costs 

Why Generate Your Own Nitrogen Gas?

Why Generate Your Own Nitrogen Gas?

A nitrogen generator has many benefits: 

  • Cost: A nitrogen gas generator can save 50% or more compared to purchasing nitrogen gas through a contract supplier (when considering ongoing operating costs). 
  • Control: You have total control over production volume, with NO contracts and NO risk of running short. 
  • Purity: A nitrogen generator lets you control the purity of the nitrogen gas, so you can balance purity needs and production costs. 
  • Safety: Producing nitrogen gas on-site means no loading and unloading of heavy tanks and no icing of liquid N2 tanks. 
  • Storage: Free up storage room by producing nitrogen gas on demand instead of storing bulky tanks. Plus, you don’t have to worry about losing gas to evaporation during storage. 
  • Sustainability: Producing nitrogen gas on-site is a more environmentally friendly way to get the nitrogen you need. Onsite production eliminates the environmental impact of transporting heavy containers. PSA technologies used for onsite nitrogen generation are highly sustainable and energy efficient.


How Much Does a Nitrogen Generator Cost? 

The cost of a nitrogen generator will depend on the volume and purity of gas you want it to produce. A Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) nitrogen generator — the most commonly used technology for onsite nitrogen production — can start at as little as $3,500, though large systems may run to more than $100,000. Membrane systems are more affordable, starting as low as $1,000 for a small system, but have lower capacity and lower purity than a PSA nitrogen generator. 

PSA nitrogen generators can produce nitrogen gas ranging in purities from 95% to 99.999%. The higher the purity, the smaller the volume of N2 produced. That means you will need a larger nitrogen generator to produce a required volume of nitrogen gas at a very high purity vs. a lower purity. For maximum value, it is important to size your nitrogen generator properly for your application, taking into consideration both your volume and purity requirements.

How Much Does a Nitrogen Generator Cost?

The return on investment for a nitrogen generation system is usually quite fast, with an ROI of as little as 6-18 months depending on your nitrogen demand. That’s because operating costs for nitrogen generation are quite low, significantly less than the cost of a contract supply of nitrogen. The more nitrogen you use, the faster you will see the return. Onsite generation using either a membrane or PSA system is much cheaper than purchasing nitrogen cylinders, liquid nitrogen dewars, or bulk liquid nitrogen. 

Cost Comparison: Onsite Nitrogen Generation vs. Contract Supply

Per 100 ft3

Cylinder Liquid Dewar Bulk Liquid Onsite Generation (Operating Costs*)
$8.00 - $40.00 $1.80 - $4.50 $0.40 - $2.50 $0.06 - $1.10
(95-97% purity)
$0.10 – $0.18
(99.5% purity)
$0.17 – $0.30
(99.99% purity)
$0.26 – $0.45
(99.999% purity)

*Operating costs for onsite nitrogen generation costs vary depending on the nitrogen purity required, geographic location, and associated electricity costs.

Have questions about nitrogen generation? Our expert team can help! Contact us to learn whether nitrogen generation is right for you. 


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