Article on Novair Nitrogen production in TOLERIE Magazine
Our nitrogen production solutions for laser-cutting written and published in TOLERIE magazine on June 18th 2019.
An economic profitability thats no longer needs to be demonstrated
Who says laser cutting says gas consumption. Oxygen in modest quantities for steel in black section, but nitrogen in increasing quantity with increasing thickness and generalization of the oxidation free cut. An expensive, risky and polluting supply that Novair decided to tackle a few years ago, by offering on-site generation solutions.
Many manufacturers of cutting consider the supply of their cutting gas as an inevitable constraint, and operate through a choice from the few major players who share the market. The result is truck norias between the gas production centers and the cutting sites. The nitrogen consumption of a laser can, as it is the case at Crea Steel, represent 3 to 4 frames of 20 bottles per week, leading to represent a cost of 3,000 euros per month in the latter in 2017, when the company was sourcing from a known gas company. Fees that included the delivery of the frames, rental, downtime and refills.
A robust alternative
Behind this organization and this logistics, there are of course some more discrete disadvantages such as risks, small but proven, of supply disruption, the place occupied by the bundles of cylinders, the time spent on their handling ..., and the pollution caused by the movement of trucks carrying an available resource everywhere. It was this set of constraints that drove Crea Steel to focus on technology and to define with Novair the ability to produce its nitrogen requirements on site. After a study, the installation required to meet the customer's needs consists of a 30 kW compressor, a modular nitrogen generator, a high pressure compressor (300 bar booster) and 2 frames of 12 bottles to ensure continuous gas availability. It is indeed not necessary to size the production facility on the basis of gas requirements at the peak of consumption. A smaller nitrogen generator, rotating continuously, is quite capable of filling a stock of nitrogen and keep it up to smooth the production according to the needs actually consumed.
In terms of the quality of the gases produced, the technology guarantees a very high purity by using targeted molecular sieves. These are molecular sieve types that only allow molecules of a given nature to pass through and retain the others as through a filter. Thanks to adsorption and desorption cycles, the system allows to obtain very high purity gases, comparable to those from bottles or bulk tanks. In addition, the quality of the product gas is continuously monitored, ensuring continuous compliance and the absence of risk of drift.
Novair in a few dates
In 1977, Bernard Zenou founded Novair in a 30 sqm office in the Paris region and dedicated the company to the trading of compressors and vacuum pumps. In the 1980s, the company acquired recognized know-how in the manufacture of air and vacuum plants. In 1995, the introduction of the first PSA oxygen generator marks a turning point for on-site gas production. In the 2000s, the export activity grew strongly thanks to the sales of on site oxygen production systems to healthcare establishments, particularly in Africa and the Middle East. In 2016, Novair acquires Noxerior, an Italian company specializing in the supply of modular solutions for the production of nitrogen and oxygen on site and very active industrial applications. In 2017, the company creates a subsidiary dedicated to the commercialization of autonomous nitrogen and oxygen production systems designed specifically for industrial applications such as laser cutting. In 2019, Novair is installed on a site of 4500 sqm in Roissy in France with nearly 100 employees and several thousand references in more than 100 countries. The group has achieved in 2018 a turnover of 18 million euros.
By choosing a nitrogen supply contract from Novair, Crea Steel has halved its costs, which represents an annual gain of more than 12,000 euros. This industrialist has indeed opted for a fixed rent in terms of renting his installation, regardless of its level of consumption. In this way, the only variable is the amount of electricity it consumes to serve its needs.
This option is not the only one proposed by Novair. An industrialist may choose to purchase nitrogen production plant or to lease it with an option to purchase, depending on the economic and accounting options he prefers. Beyond the contractual aspect, Novair has thought of the need to offer evolutive capacities in a flexible manner. As such, it is important to point out that it has developed a modular generator model. Thus, if it is necessary to resize an installation because the means of production (and therefore the gas requirements) have changed, it will not be necessary to replace the generator, but simply to add one or more modules of carbon molecular sieve or to increase the capacity. It is thus possible to upgrade an installation for a few thousand euros, without return to the factory and without costly adaptations. This will reassure skeptics and tempt some who can test with a modest installation before generalizing the experience on the entire site. What is certain is that the levels of economy are such that it is difficult to conceive that the technology does not know a strong development. Especially since the reliability of the systems is well established and the level of maintenance is very low.