Category: Gas Generation, Nitrogen, PSA Nitrogen Generators
Nitrogen gas is essential in the pharmaceutical industry, from packaging to fire suppression in an obviously volatile environment. Nitrogen gas is used to keep products dry and sterile to improve their durability. Nitrogen gas is also used to reduce the amount of oxygen in situations where combustion is a serious concern. Previous nitrogen generators did not give a sufficient purity required for pharmaceutical use.
Transfer High-pressure nitrogen gas can be used to assist safe transfer of substances from one vessel to another. This highly effective solution speeds up the process without causing any dissolution or build-up of substances. Purging Manufacturing and analytical equipment can be purged with nitrogen gas to remove oxygen and water vapour from process lines, this can increase product quality and reduce the need for further conditioning treatments. Blanketing final drug products must be stored in the appropriate way to ensure humidity and oxygen do not affect the product and powders do not agglomerate. Blanketing with nitrogen provides an inert atmosphere that suppresses airborne contamination such as moisture and bacteria. Nitrogen will also provide a blanket to protect potentially reactive materials from contact with oxygen, and so maintain quality.
Many pharmaceutical products cannot withstand any form of thermal sterilisation, in which case aseptic filtration followed by packaging in pre-sterilised containers in a cleanroom environment is the best solution. Because aseptic filtration/fill operations are complex, environmental controls are required to maintain standards. Nitrogen gas can be used to provide a suitable atmosphere and for filter integrity testing.
An in-house nitrogen generator based on the pressure swing-adsorption technique requires considerably less energy and therefore has a considerably lower carbon footprint than fractional distillation of air and transportation of the gas from the distillation site. A significant amount of energy is expended in the fractional-distillation process, and additional energy is required to transport the nitrogen to the end-user. In contrast, an in-house PSA system simply requires a source of compressed air. Because the nitrogen is generated locally with a small energy requirement, it is quite likely that conversion to PSA generation of nitrogen will lead to a significant “green” credit for a pharmaceutical company that is not in the immediate vicinity of a fractional distillation site. A green credit also arises from the fact that it is no longer required to transport liquid nitrogen over significant distances. In addition, a significant amount of the power used to generate the nitrogen can be recovered by using an energy recovery-type system with a water-cooled air compressor.