What is inerting and what are its fields of application ?
Inerting is a preventive measure intended to reduce or even eliminate the risks caused by one or more reactive products that have not been properly confined. This technique is used in many areas, including the agribusiness, pharmaceutical, biotechnology and even oenology.
What does inerting mean exactly ?
Inerting is primarily a technique that involves replacing a risky atmosphere with a more stable gas. Its purpose is to create a chemically inert environment to suppress any accidental phenomena that present a risk such as pollution, explosion or irradiation. Concretely, the inerting operation corresponds to the injection of an inert gas into the space where a risk product is located, to make sure that its components can not escape from this space, and enter in contact with other products with which it may interact. In most cases, nitrogen, argon and carbon dioxide are the most used inert gases to replace an undesirable gas or a component that is considered too toxic.
Inerting for 3D printing
Selective laser sintering is a process that uses the rapid prototyping technique and allows for the production of many 3D printed parts. This process is used in several sectors, including:
- The industry for unique, accurate and cost-effective achievements - The automobile, for the manufacture of resistant technical parts - Health for the development of medical devices such as prostheses and implants
During the production phase of a selective laser sintering machine, it is necessary to create a neutral environment. Indeed, the high temperatures generated by this process present a risk of combustion related to the projection of dust, and can also deform the parts produced. This is why the nitrogen is injected into the production chamber in order to lower the oxygen level and thus make the environment inert.
In the field of oenology, inerting is mainly based on the use of a neutral gas such as argon, nitrogen or carbon dioxide. It therefore aims replacing the air in contact with wine or juice to reduce the risk of oxidation phenomena of enzymatic or chemical origin. In the process of champagnification, the use of carbon dioxide makes the wine sparkling. The concentration of dissolved carbon dioxide thus defines the size of the bubbles.
Inerting in an industrial environment
In an industrial environment, particularly in the petrochemical sector, the aim of inerting is to replace a chemically reactive or easily explosive environment with a gaseous mixture or a simple non-combustible and non-oxidizing gas. In the process of nitrogen generator inerting, the objective is therefore to reduce the presence of the oxidant, in order to place the gas concentration below the lower Explosive Limit or LEL, or above the LES, that is the Upper Explosive Limit. Nitrogen is chemically neutral and is one of the most sought after industrial gases.