Typical sources for nitrogen high or low pressure gas delivered by pipeline or supplied in pressurized bottles. Nitrogen can also be delivered or supplied in liquid form.
In the oil and gas industry Nitrogen is used for:
Purging air or flammable or toxic gases from systems, Pressure testing, Leak testing, Pad pressure for offloading tank trucks, atmospheric tanks and new equipment.
Note: any use of nitrogen must be fully communicated to any workers before they work with or around it, during the hazard assessment.
In the oil and gas industry sector, nitrogen is used widely because of its “inert” properties (i.e., it does not react with or affect other material). Nitrogen is frequently used to “inert” potentially explosive atmospheres. It is often used to keep material free of contaminants, including oxygen, which can corrode equipment or present a fire and explosion hazard when in contact with flammable liquids or combustible solids, in such cases, a flow of nitrogen is maintained in a vessel to keep oxygen out.
Nitrogen is also used to purge air from equipment prior to introducing material, or to purge flammable or toxic material prior to opening equipment for maintenance. By displacing oxygen, which is necessary for combustion, the addition of nitrogen to potentially explosive or flammable atmospheres prevents the conditions by which explosion and fire can occur.
Properties of Nitrogen:
- Colorless and odourless – therefore the normal senses of sight and smell are not useful in detecting it.
- Slightly lighter than air and will tend to raise or fill a space exposed to it.
- Keep in mind that nitrogen has no “warning” properties.
- Nitrogen is heavier than air and will seek low points in a confined space.
- The air we breathe is 78% nitrogen.
- Oxygen concentration below 19.5% is considered an oxygen deficient environment.
- Asphyxia develops slowly as the oxygen content of air is gradually reduce from 21%
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