Nitrogen Generators for Dispensing Draft Beer
Bars and restaurants that are fed up with moving high pressure cylinders around and their cost may have an alternative. Nitrogen generators are a safe, economical source for not only ultra pure nitrogen, they can also maintain your keg quality by providing the appropriate CO2 and nitrogen blends for dispensing nitrogenated beers as well as ales and lagers. What’s not to like – lowering costs while increasing sales.
A nitrogen generator is a relatively compact machine that encompasses an air compressor which feeds a filter or sieve that separates the nitrogen from the air. This 99.8% pure or better nitrogen is then placed in a stationary pressure tank near the generator.
The generated nitrogen along with a CO2 source supplies an on board McDantim dual gas blender. The blends are normally 25% CO2 / 75% nitrogen for nitrogenated beers such as Guinness and 60% CO2 / 40% nitrogen for most ales and lagers. Custom blends are obtainable. The nitrogen can also be used for dispensing wine systems as well.
There are two methods of separating the nitrogen from the air – through a replaceable membrane or a PSA (pressure swing adsorption) carbon molecular sieve. Both are very proficient although the PSA sieve method tends to be more popular as it is self cleaning resulting in low maintenance. The membrane can be expensive and must be replaced once it has become congested.
The generator, in conjunction with bulk CO2, commonly is leased by bars and restaurants for an average of $200 /month. This varies based on the size of the unit required for the volume of beer dispensed (up to 400 kegs / month) and market conditions. This can result in substantial savings with an endless supply of gas and low maintenance.
Nitrogen generators can be purchased outright but can be costly. Average pricing is around $6000. Maintenance is the requirement of the owner. Most certainly warranties apply but eventually the cost of repairs can be prohibitive as compared to lease programs.
These machines have come a long way since they were first introduced over a decade ago to the dispensing of draft beer. The quirks have been worked out and the maintenance requirements are minimal less the membrane change for that type of generator. They require nominal space and are quieter than ever.
The majority of gas from cylinders is lost due to leaks! With a combination generator / bulk CO2 system, these leaks tend to be less painful. If you are tired of pinching fingers between cylinders, changing regulators, downtime from running out of gas, high cost and danger of cylinders the nitrogen generator may be a solution.
Above all, the nitrogen generator provides “Best Practice” protecting your keg inventory with an endless source of mixed gas. Convenient, safe and affordable while encouraging resale of a very profitable product – draught beer.