10 September 2019

On-site nitrogen generation from Atlas Copco helps metal fabricator cut costs

Metal fabricator firm Advance Engineering has invested in an Atlas Copco on-site nitrogen generation system to ensure the quality of its laser-cutting operation, increase output and make substantial cost savings when set against delivered bottled gas supplies. The system was supplied by Atlas Copco’s premier distributor, Anglian Compressors & Equipment Ltd.

The broad range of output and engineering services supplied from the Kings Lynn-based company’s 1,250 square metre workshop is directed primarily towards the food processing industry. The company’s growth area is in fabrication services, which employs its skilled work force in sub-contract laser cutting and metal folding operations. It was to expand this capability that the decision was made to invest in new production equipment and to seek a more economic source for the supply of nitrogen gas.

Laser-cutting metal, particularly stainless steel, relies on a supply of nitrogen gas as a blanket to prevent burning during the process. Purity of the gas is an important factor in overcoming the tendency for discolouration of laser-cut edges and to provide a high-quality finish. Besides these technical considerations for Advance Engineering’s expansion project, it was equally important to achieve savings on the cost of delivered bottled nitrogen supplies; which was averaging close to £1500 per week.  

After investigating all the available options, it was decided that installing on-site nitrogen generation was the answer to both needs. It would deliver significant cost savings, maintain supply independence and ensure a continuous, reliable source of high purity nitrogen.

Anglian Compressors provided the solution by installing an all-in-one nitrogen generation assembly. The compact Atlas Copco Nitrogen N2 8 skid package comes complete with a GA VSD+ FF full-feature, rotary screw compressor, an NGP+ nitrogen generator, air and nitrogen receivers, plus a booster, dryers and filters, all fully integrated into one pre-commissioned skid unit. This true plug-and-play system’s 300-bar output of 99.99 per cent pure nitrogen, at the rate of 38 Nm3/h, can be switched either to receiver storage or high-pressure bottling in its 16-cylinder rack. 

The unit’ s energy-efficient components, that include a VSD+ permanent motor drive and NGP+ generator technologies, can offer more than 50% cost savings in comparison to conventional on-site generation solutions. In addition, the generator’s low-volume, high quality absorbent medium provides optimum capacity to produce the nitrogen. Whereas other competitive systems require six volumes of air to produce one volume of nitrogen, Atlas Copco’s design requires a ratio of only four parts air to one part of nitrogen.

This volume reduction means the installation features a relatively smaller compressor with a smaller motor, thus reducing running costs. There is a corresponding reduction in the size of ancillaries also, such as filters and dryers, as less compressed air is used in the nitrogen production. This has the overall effect of reducing capital expenditure as well as ongoing service costs.


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