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Nitrogen Generators for Inerting or Blanketing Fuel and Chemical Tanks

Nitrogen blanketing is a process that’s necessary in industries that handle volatile and combustible materials. Safely handling these materials is a major priority in order to prevent fires or explosions that can damage infrastructure and result in on-the-job injuries and fatalities. With that in mind, it’s important to have a standard nitrogen blanketing execution plan in place to ensure the safety of everyone involved and prevent significant infrastructure damages from taking place.

Nitrogen tank blanketing is used for the following types of product storage and industrial applications:

  • Bunker oil storage tanks
  • Ethanol storage tanks
  • Diesel fuel storage tanks
  • Petroleum refineries
  • Petrochemical plants
  • Airplane fuel tanks
  • Volatile chemical tanks
  • Transformers
  • Chemical plants and refineries
  • Shipboard inerting

Advanced Gas Technologies provides state-of-the-art, standard and custom-engineered onsite nitrogen generators for tank blanketing for all of the above mentioned applications.

What Is Nitrogen Inerting or Blanketing?

Also known as nitrogen padding, tank padding, or tank blanketing, nitrogen is the most commonly used inert gas for most industrial applications. Nitrogen blanketing is the process of releasing inert gaseous nitrogen into a storage tank. The purpose of this is to counteract the effects that oxygen can have on certain types of storage materials.

Nitrogen blanketing is a means of controlling the atmosphere within the storage tank to reduce the ignition potential and other potentially dangerous or undesirable chemical reactions that flammable storage materials can have when they come into contact with oxygen. By blanketing the storage tank using inert or inactive nitrogen, this process prevents oxygen from entering the tank where volatile, flammable, vulnerable, or perishable materials and liquids are being stored. The gas source is usually located on the outside of the storage tank or container, hence the need for an onsite nitrogen generator.

Advantages of Using Onsite Nitrogen Generators for Chemical Blanketing

To prevent the introduction or reintroduction of oxygen and other gaseous contaminants, a high concentration of nitrogen must be present within the tanks or padded vessels at all times. The best way to accomplish this and control the inert nitrogen levels is to install onsite nitrogen generators for inerting. Aside from easy access and manageability, here are a few other advantages of taking this approach.

  • It’s cost-effective because the end user is not perpetually paying rent for nitrogen tanks and buying nitrogen gas from conventional industrial gas suppliers. You’ll always have as much nitrogen as you need on demand for a lower price then conventional nitrogen supply methods.
  • It mitigates the ingress of oxygen entering the storage tank and therefore eliminates risk of explosion, fire, or other type of adverse chemical reaction.
  • Your facility will have an unlimited supply of inert nitrogen whenever you need it.
  • Onsite nitrogen generators prevent water vapour accumulation, along with oxygen and other impurities from entering the storage tank.

How to Properly Size the Nitrogen Generator for Chemical Blanketing

When it comes to installing an onsite nitrogen generator for your tank storage facility, it’s important to determine the accurate tank dimensions in terms of volume.

Liquid losses during exfiltration and the condensation of the tank vapours during the atmospheric thermal cooling process must also be taken into consideration. The following steps need to be taken to accurately size an onsite nitrogen generator.

  • Determine the gas flow rate caused by exfiltration.
  • Determine the gas flow rate caused by atmospheric cooling.
  • Combine the above two requirements to determine the flow rate capacity that your nitrogen generator will need.
  • Determine nitrogen pressure requirement.
  • Determine the purity level of nitrogen required for your application. Typical nitrogen purity requirements for fuel and chemical tank inerting range between 95% and 99.9%.
  • The flow rate and purity levels needed determine the size of the nitrogen generator that you’ll need for your application.

To prevent air ingression into a storage tank, it’s necessary to maintain a constant nitrogen pressure in the tank when the tank isn’t being pumped out. Conveniently, this nitrogen flow process is automatically controlled by the nitrogen generator and no action is required from jobsite staff.

Methods of Nitrogen Blanketing for Inerting Fuel and Chemical Tanks

Depending on the tank storage, application, and facility, there are three main methods of nitrogen blanketing for inerting fuel and chemical tanks.

  1. Limiting Oxygen Concentration (LOC). Also known as the minimum oxygen concentration, this method involves limiting the oxygen concentration in the vapour space or storage tank to the point where combustion can’t occur, independent of the fuel content. The LOC varies based on various pressure and temperature readings and is expressed in units of volume percent of oxygen.
  2. Lower Explosive Limit (LEL). LEL, which is also referred to as Lower Flammability Limit (LFL) is typically expressed in volume percent. This method involves reducing the fuel concentration within the vapour space to a value that’s lower than the minimum concentration that leads to combustion.
  3. Upper Explosive Limit (UEL), aka Upper Flammability Limit (UFL). Lastly, this method involves increasing the fuel concentration in the vapour space to a value that exceeds the maximum concentration that leads to combustion.

Choose Advanced Gas Technologies for Your Nitrogen Inerting Needs

Since 1994, Advanced Gas Technologies has been marketing, designing, installing, and maintaining industrial onsite nitrogen generators for inerting and chemical blanketing purposes throughout North America.

Our main objective is to assist industrial complexes in sustainably reducing their industrial nitrogen and oxygen costs by implementing cutting-edge technologies such as standard or custom-engineered onsite nitrogen and oxygen generating systems that can lower gas nitrogen or oxygen costs by as much as 90%. Contact us today to learn more about our products and services.

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