Nitrogen is one of the essentials to life and it makes up to 78% of the Earth's atmosphere. It s a non-metallic element that constitutes nearly four-fifths of the air by volume, occurring as a colorless, odorless, almost inert diatomic gas, N2, in various minerals and in all proteins and used in a wide variety of applications, including manufacture of ammonia, nitric acid, etc.

Nitrogen is non flammable gas, more stable than air, although not completely inert. It can detect much smaller leaks in the system compared to air considering smaller size of molecule.

Nitrogen is generally a reliable dry gas, which is economic, safe when handled properly and chemically inert with most metals and materials.


Besides making up 78% of the earth’s atmosphere. Nitrogen is also a leak detector. It is an effective method of detecting micro-leaks and can be more reliable than other tests that are easily affected by environmental factors.

A leak test is a method for determining if vessels, pipes, or other system components can safely withstand the internal pressures required during normal operations or any system surges through the use of nitrogen. Nitrogen leak-detection system has been developed to safely pressure test and commission oil and gas process equipment. The system is able to detect leaks of a much lower magnitude than conventional leak detection systems and it offers several advantages over conventional hydrostatic testing. Inert nitrogen gas used as the pressurizing medium also safely purges the process system of oxygen and flammable gases.

There are numerous benefits attached while using nitrogen for leak detection. Because of its inert, odorless, and low in moisture nature, it gives it room to avoid any challenge that could possibly occur with using air or water for pressure testing. It is ideal for testing in a variety of locations and economically produced wherever it is needed.


The need for safety and quality assurance of equipment and products cannot be over emphasized. Talking about why you need nitrogen, many types of components need to be tested for leakage prior to being put into use. It’s also important during the process of use and after use to ascertain the appropriate time for servicing/repair to avoid huge damages on the long run.

Nitrogen is essential and needed in:

  • Manufacturing and construction
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Food preservation
  • Stainless Steels
  • Electronics
  • General Industry
  • Marine
  • Laboratories
  • Oil and Gas
  • Fire Prevention
  • Marine

Nitrogen is needed virtually in all sectors as mentioned above. These are its common uses:

  • Nitrogen gas (N2) is often used as a replacement for air where oxidation is undesirable.
  • Because of its inert, colorless and odorless characteristics, it is used to displace or replace the air to reduce the risk of deterioration of properties of the end product.
  • Nitrogen is used in many metal heat treatment activities like annealing, hardening, sintering, and also for welding, brazing and soldering.
  • Nitrogen is used during the production and packaging of pharmaceutical products to avoid unwanted oxygen that could initiate side reactions.
  • Nitrogen is used in lead-free soldering of the circuit boards or other very small components to prevent oxidation.
  • Nitrogen is used in the laboratory for analysis and also as a cryogen to freeze and preserve blood, tissue, and other biological specimens.
  • Nitrogen is used as a purging gas in the steel industry, protecting the weld seam until it has cooled to the point that oxidation no longer can occur.
  • It is also used as a shield gas for safeguarding technological processes against oxidation.
  • Purging and blanketing also uses nitrogen gas, tanks filled with hydrocarbon liquids have vapor space in the top of the tank, which collects hydrocarbon vapors. In atmospheric tanks, air can be drawn in when emptying the tank and it would be easy to ignite this by static electricity or friction. Purging the vapor space with nitrogen prevents this.
  • Nitrogen is also used in soldering; Soldering is used in a huge variety of applications, from plumbing, to jewelry making, electronics manufacturing, and many other industries. Soldering can be hindered by the presence of oxygen as it interferes with the metals, especially if there’s any presence of moisture in the environment that would spark the corrosion reaction. Soldering can be less effective when done in an oxygen-rich environment. The solution to this problem is applying Nitrogen, a safe, dry and noncombustible gas, to effectively displace oxygen, creating an environment that is much more conducive to soldering.

Furthermore, within each industry there are now numerous nitrogen applications that can help enhance quality, reinforce safety and prevent the negative impacts of oxygen exposure on end products.

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26th May 2020 Lilian Uzuegbu

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