Nitrogen supplier to Western Michigan Nitrogen, a chemically inert gas that is colorless and odorless, is the most common element in our Earth’s atmosphere, comprising around 78% of the air we breathe in Western Michigan. While we view nitrogen inert, it is vital for most plants’ ability to take up water, minerals and nutrients from soil, as well as supplying our world with an effective ultraviolet and radiation filter.Practically all commercial nitrogen is produced by liquefying air and distilling it into its major components: nitrogen (78%), oxygen (21%) and argon (0.9%). While the technology to liquefy air has existed for more than 140 years, utilizing this advancement for a while proved elusive. First believed to be an efficient means to produce industrial scale cooling, the capital and operating costs in air liquefaction proved to be a major barrier to commercial use for this application. The invention of the oxy-acetylene torch soon produced a viable market for oxygen, but how could nitrogen be used?It turns out a market was starting to develop. For most of the nineteenth century, agriculture in Europe was becoming increasingly dependent on guano imports from South America. This guano was rich in nutrients to fertilize the depleted soils of the farm regions of Europe. But the price to mine, transport and store it increased as more readily accessible materials were depleted. It was known that most of the guano was urea-based, and a German chemist, Friedrich Wöhler had synthesized urea from ammonia salts in 1828. However, to make the process commercially viable, ammonia had to be affordably synthesized.Early in the twentieth century, another German chemist, Fritz Haber, figured out that mixing hydrogen and nitrogen with an osmium catalyst produced ammonia efficiently, the higher the purity of the starting nitrogen and hydrogen, the better the yield. Further rapid developments in high pressure reactor design and economical iron-based catalysts enabled the first commercial ammonia production at BASF in Germany in 1913. Once this plant started production, new businesses developed quickly, including fertilizers, diazo dies and an entire organic chemicals industry. Thus, almost overnight a market was created for the “waste gas” produced from atmospheric air production, and the industrial gas business hit its initial growth spurt,Today, nitrogen finds use in many commercial applications, including: chemical processing, concrete cooling, construction, metal production and fabrication, and many other miscellaneous uses. Ultra high purity and ultra carrier nitrogen are used as blanketing agents in chemical and pharmaceutical processing, and generally used as carrier gases in both gas and liquid chromatography.The specialty gas experts at GTW have the experience to help identify the nitrogen product Western Michigan customers need. Give our team a call at 616-754-6120 or use this online form to contact us.