Laboratories around the world require a reliable and consistent mixture of quality gases for a range of applications including gas chromatography (GC) and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). In an environment where safety is paramount, gas generators provide a safe solution for using gases in the laboratory.
Traditionally, gases such as hydrogen and nitrogen are delivered in high-pressure cylinders and each gas comes with its own inherent risks. The pressurized cylinders can be dangerous and require careful handling, transportation, and storage to prevent damage and injury. Not only do gas generators eliminate the common safety risks associated with cylinders, but they also offer a variety of features to further ensure a safe working environment.
Store very low volumes of gas
The first safety aspect of a generator is the low stored volume of gas, meaning that in the event of damage, there is minimal gas to enter the atmosphere. In the unlikely event of an incident, a gas generator is designed with safety features that will prevent the gas concentration in the air from ever reaching critical levels.
The second reason gas generators are a safe option for labs is that they operate at low pressures. Generators are designed to deliver gas at the pressure required for the application, whereas gas cylinders need a pressure regulator to lower the pressure to the required level. Low-pressure operation means there is no risk of a dangerous situation occurring where a large quantity of gas is suddenly released into the atmosphere.
Automatic shut down
The third and possibly most important safety aspect of gas generators is that they will sound an alert or shut down if there is any deviation from their standard operation.
Unlike cylinders and bulk tanks, generators are programmable. Parker analytical gas generators, for example, are equipped with over 50 alarms to ensure complete safety in the lab. These safety features account for all potential risks, including problems with the instruments, power supply changes, and environmental factors. The most critical feature that proves the inherent safety of gas generators, is their ability to respond to external changes that might impact normal operation and laboratory safety.
Safe supply of hydrogen
When thinking about gas safety in laboratories, hydrogen should be highlighted as a high-risk gas. Hydrogen's flammability ranges from 4% (LEL) to 75% (UEL) — a very wide range for a fuel source — raising concerns about storing and transporting hydrogen cylinders. Parker hydrogen generators include built-in safety features that, in most cases, stop hydrogen production. With no stored volume and the rapid diffusion properties of hydrogen, the generator design prevents the H2 concentration in the air from ever meeting the lower explosive limit (LEL).
Comprehensive range of generators
Parker manufactures and offers a wide range of products globally to support laboratory gas needs. Focused on exceptional accuracy, Parker hydrogen, nitrogen and zero air generators fulfill carrier, make-up and fuel gas needs ensuring precise results in separation techniques such as GC, whilst creating the safest possible environment.
Additionally, Parker gas generators meet the challenge of finding a gas supply solution that meets the quality criteria whilst being easy to use, cost-efficient, safe and reliable. With the largest global install base, Parker’s industry-leading solutions are built and tested to the highest international standards and we work with partners in laboratories across a range of sectors to ensure the optimum gas delivery and performance.
This post was contributed by Ellie Jones, analytical gas product manager and Dave Sykes, gas generation technology blog team member, Parker Gas Separation and Filtration Division, EMEA.