Nitrogen generator compressors

Discussions about GC-MS, LC-MS, LC-FTIR, and other "coupled" analytical techniques.

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We have a Parker nitrogen generator for our HPLC/MS (Nitroflow) which we have been running continuously without any issues for about 2 years now (not running the MS 24/7, just occasionally). Recently, the compressors started making a bit more noise, which seems to worsen as the weeks go by. We know that the manufacturer's recommendation is to replace these every year, but we'd like to get as much lifetime out of them as we can due to the price associated with maintenance (we're in academia). Are we correct in assuming that the only thing this will eventually lead to is a drop in pressure/flow once one (or both) of the compressors break down? At which point we could then replace them?

How long were you able to typically run your generators without replacing compressors?

Also, how often do you actually change the carbon inlet adsorber; wouldn't the main symptom it needs to be replaced more noise in your MS?

A lot depends on the specific design of your generator. Be aware that if you run the generators with a compressor that's really struggling, and it starts to vibrate excessively, the vibration can cause damage to other parts of the generator, making the ultimate repair more expensive.

If you've had 2 years from a compressor, it's doing well. We had a time when we were lucky to get 12 months.

If you're in a University, you might like to be political and try to persuade your building services people that the provision of vital supplies such as gasses is their job and not yours! In particular, if they had a reliable compressed air supply at a sensible pressure you could use nitrogen generators without integrated compressors and then you'd never have the compressor replacement cost.

In our generators, we've been told that by the time the carbon thing decays, the rest of the generator will be beyond its life-time, but this may vary between models and manufacturers.
The carbon trap should only become saturated if you are working in an area with a lot of solvent fumes, so that one should last a while. The compressors though have seals that will wear out when run constantly. If you turn the generator off when not using the instrument then they will last a really long time, but running 24/7/365 a year to year and a half is the max, and by then they are getting quite noisy. We had one of these units and after a few years of letting the pumps go two years between changes it got to where it just would not make enough flow. I think the particles from the compressors wearing down will eventually clog things up.

We switched to a generator that uses the house compressed air now and the room is so much less noisy :) If you do not use the MS often, they at least plumb in a lower flow unit to keep the curtain gas flow over the entrance cone to keep out the room air and shut down the high volume system until it is needed. This will make the generator last longer.
The past is there to guide us into the future, not to dwell in.
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