Nitrogen supplier to Auburn

Nitrogen, a chemically inert gas that is colorless and odorless, is the most prevalent element in our Earth’s atmosphere, representing roughly 78% of the air we breathe in Auburn. While we consider nitrogen inert, it is vital for most plants’ function to take up water, minerals and nutrients from soil, as well as supplying our world with an effective ultraviolet and radiation filter.

Most all commercial nitrogen is produced by liquefying air and distilling it into its major components: nitrogen (78%), oxygen (21%) and argon (0.9%). While the to liquefy air has been around for over 140 years, utilizing this advancement for a while proved elusive. First believed to be an efficient means to produce industrial scale cooling, the capital and operating costs in air liquefaction proved to be a major barrier to commercial use for this application. The creation of the oxy-acetylene torch soon produced a budding market for oxygen, but how could nitrogen be used?

It turns out a market was developing. For most of the nineteenth century, agriculture in The Old World was becoming increasingly dependent on guano imports from South America. This guano was rich in nutrients to supplement the depleted soils of the farm regions of Europe. But the cost to mine, transport and store it increased as more readily accessible materials were depleted. It was known that most of the guano was urea-based, and a German chemist, Friedrich Wöhler had synthesized urea from ammonia salts in 1828. However, to make the process commercially viable, ammonia had to be cost-effectively synthesized.

Early in the twentieth century, another German chemist, Fritz Haber, determined mixing hydrogen and nitrogen with an osmium catalyst produced ammonia efficiently, the higher the purity of the starting nitrogen and hydrogen, the better the yield. Further rapid innovations in high pressure reactor design and lower cost iron-based catalysts enabled the first commercial ammonia production at BASF in Germany in 1913. Once this plant came online, new businesses developed quickly, including fertilizers, diazo dies and an entire organic chemicals industry. Thus, almost overnight a market was created for the “waste gas” produced from atmospheric air production, and the industrial gas business hit its initial growth spurt,

Today, nitrogen finds use in many commercial applications, including: chemical processing, concrete cooling, construction, metal production and fabrication, and many other miscellaneous uses. Ultra high purity and ultra carrier nitrogen are used as blanketing agents in chemical and pharmaceutical processing, and generally used as carrier gases in both gas and liquid chromatography.

The specialty gas experts at Spec Air Specialty Gases have the experience to help identify the nitrogen product Auburn customers need. Give our team a call at or use this online form to contact us.