t Consistent and controllable supply of nitrogen on-site - Plant & Works Engineering

Consistent and controllable supply of nitrogen on-site

Published:  15 July, 2007

Danone, the worldwide manufacturer of food and beverage products, is using Parker Hannifin's NitroSource nitrogen generation system to produce a consistent and controllable supply of nitrogen on-site.

The nitrogen supply is used as part of a transfer mechanism to provide an inert blanket. Perhaps most importantly, the use of the NitroSource system has enabled Danone to blanket water storage vessels in order to prevent bug growth and hazardous chemicals for fire prevention.

The company's Brecon Hills manufacturing facility processes 18, 000 bottles per hour through the plant, with a six man team operating the machinery per shift.

The NitroSource system is based on Parker Hannifin's hollow fibre membrane technology, which separates air into nitrogen and an oxygen-enriched air stream. The system comprises a main unit that can be expanded with the addition of a further five subunits and, thanks to a master/slave feature, up to 11 main units and their associated subunits can be combined and controlled as if they were one.

Equipped with a digital data management system, parameters such as flow, pressure and residual oxygen concentration can be monitored, stored and communicated to other devices or control systems.

The system provides Danone with a range of benefits. These include eliminating the inconveniences and costs of cylinder gas as well as the reliance on external deliveries and outside vendors. This, in turn, means that the storage space and costs involved with cylinders are removed, long term cost stability is assured and - just as importantly - users can control their own supply by providing the volume and purity required. Reliability and robustness are also essential .

Nitrogen is a crucial component in Danone"s safety and process systems and, until recently, the company was purchasing considerable volumes of liquid nitrogen each month from a bulk gas supplier.

Stephen Lake, engineer at the Brecon Hills plant, explains:  "Although the gas supplied was of a high quality, there was always the potential for a disruption in deliveries and with NitroSource the hassle factor has been eliminated from the process. Of greater importance is the fact that we are under increasing pressure to reduce our operating costs without affecting the standard of service or range of drinks that we provide to our customers.”

By installing an on-site generation system, Danone has been able to take control of the supply, quality and cost of the nitrogen required for its various production processes. As Stephen Lake points out, “using the NitroSource system means that we can choose when and how we generate nitrogen without affecting the quality of the gas”. He adds: “In addition, the system has helped us reduce our gas operating costs, with payback on the unit being achieved within 12 months'. Total costs per year excluding the initial one-off investment have been reduced from £24,525 to £912.”

Parker  says its membranes are up to 100 times more permeable than competing devices, which enables the pressure and feed temperature of the compressed air stream to be lowered to 6 bar at 20°C, thereby minimising energy consumption, reducing capital cost, and extending operating life.

The NitroSource system is supplied as a compact, fully integrated unit, complete with oxygen sensor, flow meter and all connections. The NitroSource capacity to produce nitrogen can easily be extended by the addition of extra membrane modules.

A further important benefit of NitroSource is that the unit has a small footprint and requires minimal maintenance; similarly, the in-built digital data management feature enables us easily to monitor, store and communicate parameters such as pressure, flow and residual oxygen concentration to our overall process control systems.

For further information please visit: www.parker.com

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