How nitrogen is used in the pharmaceutical industry

Protecting quality: the use of nitrogen gas in the pharmaceutical industry

The quality and effectiveness of pharmaceutical products is critical to the industry, but more importantly to the patients using them. For many, the term "life or death" is not an exaggeration. That is why all stages of pharmaceutical product development and production must adhere to the strictest standards. Nitrogen helps safeguard product integrity in pharmaceutical packaging and in laboratory processes. Let’s take a look at the versatile and critical use of nitrogen gas in the pharmaceutical industry.

Pharmaceutical packaging

Because nitrogen is an inert gas, it is often used to exclude or push oxygen out of certain areas, packages and containers. Pharmaceutical products are no exception. Nitrogen is flushed into the packaging of various medications to extend their shelf life and to ensure their quality and integrity. Nitrogen is also used in the digital printing of pharmaceutical packaging. Having a nitrogen generator is ideal for pharmaceutical packaging. It allows for the on-site production of a reliable supply of nitrogen, eliminating any dependency on external suppliers. An on-site nitrogen generator also prevents downtime and ensures that the necessary nitrogen purity (99.999% in this application) is readily available.


In many pharmaceutical or medical facilities, certain areas are blanketed with nitrogen to force out the majority of the oxygen. Nitrogen thus greatly reduces the risk of combustion and fire and prevents oxidation of products and equipment.


Laboratories use nitrogen for more complex processes such as the analysis and transportation of certain chemicals. Chromatography is a laboratory analytical technique to separate a mixture. It is used to establish the presence or relative proportions of analytes (sample of interest) in a mixture. Liquid chromatography (LC) is a separation technique in which the mobile phase is a liquid. Liquid chromatography is often combined with another process called mass spectrometry (MS). This is an analytical chemistry technique that helps identify the amount and the type of particles and molecules present. The combination of these two processes is referred to as LC-MS. Nitrogen is used for 3 phases during LC-MS:

  • Nitrogen functions a nebulizer gas to produce a mist of charged droplets which result in the separation of the solvent and the ionized sample.
  • It is a carrier gas to spray the sample solution into a heater in which ionization occurs.
  • Finally, nitrogen serves a curtain gas to facilitate the separation of sample and solvent ions. It also prevents the passage of solvent into the vacuum chamber of MS.

This LC-MS process requires a minimum of 95% nitrogen purity and sometimes up to 99%. Quality nitrogen is beneficial in this process because gas impurities can compromise analysis accuracy. They can also cause major inaccuracies and problems with analytical equipment. Nitrogen reduces the levels of oxygen and water significantly, extending the working life of chromatography columns. This saves on column replacement cost and downtime.

The use of nitrogen gas in the pharmaceutical industry

Pneumatech is the expert in nitrogen solutions for sensitive applications. That makes us the preferred nitrogen partner for laboratories and the pharmaceutical industry. We offer a complete range of on-site nitrogen and oxygen generation and air treatment solutions that meet their stringent standards. Can we help you too? Contact your Pneumatech representative today!

PSA Nitrogen Generators Application Pharma Membrane Nitrogen Generators