What’s The Difference Between PSA And Membrane Nitrogen Generators

Among all gases, nitrogen has the widest range of applications. Therefore, to deal with such a large demand, industries are continuously running nitrogen generators. These generators extract nitrogen from the atmospheric air and store it to be used in the processes needing nitrogen. If you are running a similar industry, there’s a question that you would ask yourself a lot. What’s the difference between PSA and membrane nitrogen generators and which is better for your business?

In this blog, I will be answering this particular question along with all the general queries of business owners. In fact, after reading this blog, your mind will be crystal clear about whether you should buy a PSA generator or a membrane one. So, grab your snacks, as this blog is going to give you the classic experience of a thriller novel.

Use of Nitrogen Generators in Industries

At this point, you have already opened the inflated packet of your snack, and you have noticed the crazy amount of air in it. Well, it’s not air. It is Nitrogen.

How has it been put there? Of course with nitrogen generators in the snack factories. See! The work of nitrogen generators is already in front of your eyes, and you haven’t appreciated it ever before. What’s more? The use of nitrogen generators is not limited to the food & beverage industry, but when you look around you are going to find it everywhere. Everywhere from preventing damage to electronic devices to transporting sensitive pharmaceutical drugs and medications!

Nitrogen generators even provide nitrogen. They are used for a tiny fire sprinkler system in your homes to large hydraulic systems in aircraft. In short, the use of nitrogen is everywhere, as is the use of nitrogen generators in every industry.

Now, you know the use of nitrogen generators. So, without delaying it further, let’s move ahead to discussing our topic of interest. How nitrogen generator works and what the difference is between PSA and membrane nitrogen generators.

Principle And Characteristics of PSA Nitrogen Generator

PSA Nitrogen Generator (Pressure Swing Adsorption Nitrogen Generator) is a nitrogen production equipment commonly used in industrial fields. It uses the properties of molecular sieves or adsorbents to separate nitrogen and oxygen from the air. The following is a brief explanation of its principles and characteristics.

PSA Nitrogen Generator Working Principle

  • Adsorption Principle: The PSA nitrogen making machine uses the selective adsorption characteristics of the adsorbent (usually molecular sieve or activated carbon) for nitrogen and oxygen in the air. Under the specific pressure, the molecular sieve has a higher adsorption capacity for nitrogen, but a lower adsorption capacity for oxygen.
  • Pressure Change: The PSA nitrogen generator separates nitrogen and oxygen by changing the pressure of the system. There are usually two adsorption columns. One is used to adsorb nitrogen and the other is used to release previously adsorbed oxygen.
  • Cycle Operation: When working, the gas will increase the pressure through the compressor and then enter the adsorption column. In the adsorption column, nitrogen is adsorbed. Oxygen and other impurities pass through, resulting in a higher purity of nitrogen.
  • Release Adsorption: When an adsorption column is saturated with nitrogen, the system reduces the pressure. Switching the airflow direction releases oxygen and impurities from the other adsorption column into the atmosphere.

PSA Nitrogen Generator Features

  • Efficient Separation: The PSA nitrogen machine can efficiently separate nitrogen and oxygen in the air, thus obtaining high purity nitrogen.
  • Energy Efficient: PSA nitrogen generators typically have lower energy consumption than other nitrogen production methods. So it saves energy.
  • Flexibility And Controllability: it can adjust the working parameters of the nitrogen machine according to the actual needs, such as pressure, flow rate, etc., to meet the needs of different industrial applications for nitrogen.
  • Customizable: PSA nitrogen machines of different specifications, yield and purity can be customized according to needs. It is suitable for various industrial scenarios.
  • Continuous Nitrogen Supply: PSA nitrogen generator provides continuous and stable nitrogen supply. It is suitable for industrial processes that require a continuous supply of nitrogen.
PSA nitrogen machine

Principle And Characteristics of Membrane Nitrogen Generator

Membrane nitrogen generator is a equipment that produces nitrogen using membrane separation technology. It uses special membranes to separate gases. The following is a brief explanation of the principle and characteristics of the membrane nitrogen machine.

Membrane Nitrogen Generator Working Principle

  • Membrane Separation Principle: Membrane nitrogen generator uses a special semi-permeable membrane to separate nitrogen and oxygen in the air. These membranes are selective and allow nitrogen molecules to pass through the membrane. Larger oxygen molecules are restricted and cannot pass through the membrane.
  • Pressure Difference Drive: By providing a certain pressure difference, a gas mixture (usually air) is pushed through the membrane, and nitrogen molecules are passed through the membrane holes. Larger oxygen molecules are blocked, allowing nitrogen and oxygen to separate.

Membrane Nitrogen Generator Features

  • Continuous Production of Nitrogen: The membrane nitrogen generator can produce nitrogen continuously and steadily. It is suitable for industrial processes that require a continuous supply of nitrogen.
  • Low Energy Consumption: Compared to some traditional nitrogen production methods, membrane nitrogen generators often achieve lower energy consumption. Especially in small and medium-sized applications.
  • Simple Maintenance: Membrane nitrogen generators usually have a relatively simple structure and are relatively easy to maintain. The membrane has a long life, but regular inspection and cleaning are still necessary.
  • No Chemicals: In contrast to some nitrogen generation methods that chemically absorb or adsorb nitrogen, membrane nitrogen generators do not require the use of chemicals. This avoids handling and disposal costs associated with chemicals.
  • Flexibility And Customizability: Membrane nitrogen machines can be customized to different specifications, yields and purities, and are suitable for a variety of industrial applications.
  • Environmental Protection: Because no chemicals are involved, the membrane nitrogen generator has less impact on the environment and is more environmentally friendly.

Differences Between PSA And Membrane Nitrogen Generators

You are not a physicist and probably you don’t want to get to the basics of ‘how these nitrogen generators are actually running’. Instead, you are simply a business owner, who wants to know which generator is better for your business or industry.

I know that! That’s why I’m going to keep things simple. Simple, yet all the high-yield points, you need to know before making a decision. So, without further ado let’s get into it.


Purity marks the major difference between PSA and membrane nitrogen generators. PSA systems using highly competitive adsorption beds can extract more pure form of nitrogen, around 99.99%. Therefore, if purity is the deciding factor in your industry or business, you should always go with PSA nitrogen generators.

What’s more to tell? At Lingyu Machinery, we offer you even better PSA generators with the highest recordable purity, around 99.999%. So, what are you waiting for? Go and grab nitrogen generators that serve well.
Membrane nitrogen generators also offer exceptional purity levels of around 95% to 99%. Therefore, a smaller setup, not needing exceedingly pure nitrogen, can function well even with this particular type of nitrogen generator.

Cost Efficiency

Are you aware of the concept of cost efficiency? If not, let’s understand it first, as you are going to encounter it multiple times while running your business. It is a concept that encourages business owners to save money by using machines that function at a greater efficiency level.

Before making any assumptions, let’s just move systematically and start with a question. “Which particular type of generator can save more pennies while producing a fixed amount, let’s say a gallon, at a particular purity level?” You already know about the purity, both generator types are offerings. So, what do you think?

Thinking of PSA nitrogen generators? Yes, you are right. At a purity level of above 98%, PSA is far more cost-efficient than membrane nitrogen generators. Therefore, for major setups needing a continuous supply of extremely pure nitrogen gas, I definitely encourage you to go with PSA setups.

Environmental Impact

Several factors can influence the working of nitrogen generators. However, two of the most important ones that need to be addressed here are water and oil. In industries using nitrogen generators, oil is truly an evil. Oil leaking into the system, either PSA or membrane, will severely affect the functioning, even leading to permanent or irreversible damage.

When it comes to moisture, the PSA system is more sensitive to exposure. It is because the exposure to moisture will damage the functioning of CMS. It will lead to the extraction of low nitrogen levels even with lesser purity. Additionally, continuous exposure can also leave the system permanently disabled.

Membrane nitrogen generators, are more tolerant, to moisture, only showing a mild reduction in performance. However, you should know that neither PSA nor membrane generators can tolerate extreme moisture for longer durations.

Therefore, whether it’s moisture or oil, business owners should pay good attention to its removal as exposure for a longer duration can even lead to unbearable damage.

Lifespan And Maintenance

Membranes of membrane nitrogen generators are quite sensitive compared to the adsorption beds of PSA systems. Therefore, the mean declining age of performance capacity of membrane generators is 10 years compared to 20 or more years for PSA systems. In simple words, the function of the membrane filter starts deteriorating after 10 years while for PSA generators this time frame is 20 years.

Space And Size Considerations

PSA systems are larger and heavier due to the presence of adsorption beds and several moving parts such as valves and actuators. Moreover, PSA also has an automated system attached for smooth functioning. Therefore, this particular type of nitrogen generator occupies more space than a simple membrane nitrogen generator. While the latter can even be placed in your homes.

PSA vs Membrane Nitrogen Generators: The Knockout!

For larger setups, needing a continuous supply of exceedingly pure nitrogen, PSA gas generators are always a better option. They even offer you better cost efficiency and lower maintenance costs with a greater lifespan. The only drawback that comes with using PSA generators is that you will need larger spaces to accommodate those bigger machines.

However, if you own a smaller business or only need a nitrogen generator for domestic use, membrane nitrogen generators are enough to do the job.

That’s it. That’s all you need to know to understand the difference between PSA and membrane nitrogen generators before making a purchase.

The Bottom Line

You would never stop buying those inflated packets of snacks to deal with sudden hunger pangs. Factories & industries needing pure nitrogen would never going to stop working unless it’s the end of the world.

The bottom line is we will be needing nitrogen, god knows, for how many years. So, if you running such an industry, you are absolutely on the right track. But, if you want your business to grow big, think big and invest in better-quality machines.

Contact us at Lingyu Machinery, to get the highest standard PSA gas nitrogen generators for hassle-free and smooth running of your business without needing to invest big fortunes on maintenance, as you would be needing for poor standard generators.