Atlas Copco's cost-effective, efficient production of hydrogen for laser cutting systems

28th September 2018

Atlas Copco's cost-effective, efficient production of hydrogen for laser cutting systems

At EuroBLECH Atlas Copco will be showing a turn-key nitrogen production system. During laser cutting, nitrogen prevents the oxidation and discoloration of the material to be cut – such as steel, stainless steel or aluminium. From time to time, the gas is also used to clean the laser beam path. “Nitrogen supplied in cylinder batteries can account for more than half of the total operating expenses in laser processing,” says Ronny Toepke, Business Development Manager for nitrogen generators with Atlas Copco in Essen. “Companies can significantly reduce their operating expenses by using an efficient nitrogen supply system.”

With nitrogen generators from Atlas Copco, the cost of producing the nitrogen required is significantly lower than that of purchasing the gas in cylinders from a service provider. At EuroBLECH, the company will be showcasing a genuine plug-and-play solution for nitrogen production, the “high-pressure nitrogen skid”. The skid-mounted system is equipped with all the components required: an efficient GA VSD+ variable speed drive compressor, a NGP+ nitrogen generator, compressed air and nitrogen tanks, a booster, dryer and filters. “This way, users can benefit from highly efficient low-cost nitrogen supplies without being dependent on a source of compressed air,” Toepke says. All the components are designed to high quality and energy efficiency standards. Prior to delivery, they are tested in combination to ensure performance and reliability.

Two models are available: a 40-bar version for the direct use of the nitrogen produced and a 300-bar version for use in combination with high-pressure cylinders. “This means that customers who only need nitrogen at irregular intervals can select a small unit,” Toepke explains. Even with a small unit, nitrogen produced overnight can be stored for use during the next shift. “The benefits of a skid-mounted unit are small space requirements, high efficiency, easy installation and high reliability,” the expert explains. “We are using our most advanced, most efficient compressors and nitrogen generators: the VSD+ variable speed drive system and NGP+ technology for nitrogen production. These units are so energy-efficient that they can reduce the cost by more than 50 percent compared with conventional on-site nitrogen generators.”

NGP+ nitrogen generators produce hydrogen from the compressed air delivered by a compressor using a high-quality carbon molecular sieve. “The more efficient the compressor, the less energy we need for nitrogen production,” says Ronny Toepke. Atlas Copco machines automatically control nitrogen generation to obtain the pressure and purity required. To ensure safety, the temperature, pressure and dew point of the intake air are monitored. Automatic start-up of the generator avoids the risks of overloading or damage to the molecular sieve. In the stand-by mode, the unit saves energy when no nitrogen is required.

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