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Nitrogen Generators

Fast Oxidation vs. Slow Oxidation: What's the Difference?


Oxidation is the reaction that any substance has with oxygen, but is perhaps best recognized by the rusty, burnt orange corrosion (the result of the oxidation of metal!) that you see on vehicles and metal roofs.  Oxidation has two forms: fast oxidation and slow oxidation. But what’s the difference between the two?

Fast Oxidation. This is oxidation that occurs rapidly, meaning that the reaction is immediate. The presence of oxygen acts as an extreme hazard; adding oxygen into an environment already permeated with heat and fuel can result in fires and explosions. Airplane tires are a perfect example, as they must be filled with no more than 5% oxygen due to the amount of heat they generate during take-off and landing. If too much oxygen is present in the tire, the heat generated can cause the tire to combust or explode.

Slow Oxidation. As its name indicates, this is a slower version of oxidation where products are slowly ruined over time. Examples include products becoming spoiled and discolored, metal corrosion, rusty car doors, and foods turning moldy. Keep in mind that while combustion very rarely occurs during slow oxidation, there is that possibility if there is a significant-enough release of heat for ignition.

Given the above, it stands to reason that no matter the form, oxidation is something that should be prevented – or, at minimum, very well-managed. This is where nitrogen enters the picture. Nitrogen is an inert gas, meaning that it doesn’t react chemically with other elements. This makes it extremely useful in controlling oxidation, as it removes oxygen from a product or process. As a result, nitrogen is a very popular choice in preventing oxidation from occurring – and consequently preserve the integrity of your product and processes!

Does your application struggle with controlling oxidation – or need an improved solution to your existing on-site nitrogen generation? Check out www.atlascopco.com/nitrogen-usa - our Industrial Gases team is happy to assist with any questions or comments that you have!

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