Liquid nitrogen subjected to extremely low temperatures is called liquid azote. It is most often recognized by the abbreviation LN2, “LIN” or “LN” and is usually produced by the fractional distillation of liquid air.
Liquid nitrogen is used as a refrigerant, which is able to quickly freeze food or elements in medical research, as well as in reproductive technology.
How much does liquid nitrogen cost?
In the United States, the cost of liquid nitrogen starts at around $0.15 and goes up to $1.80 per liter, depending on whether it is purchased from a supplier (delivered in bulk) or produced on-site.
It is very cheap to produce onsite nitrogen and it may only cost $0.15 per liter.
On the other hand, if you choose to buy liquid nitrogen in bulk from a supplier, you will have to pay anywhere between $0.55 and $1.80 per liter, depending on your location.
In the following lines, we are going to talk about the costs associated with each of these two methods of getting liquid nitrogen.
The price of liquid nitrogen gas produced on-site
A business must take into account the following when calculating the cost of producing the liquid nitrogen substance on-site:
It is very important to maintain a liquid nitrogen generator to ensure its efficiency and lifespan. Plan on spending $1,000 per year for servicing. For example, a standard service kit costs around $670 and includes electrical components like relays and fuses, and filters. But you will need to hire a qualified technician for specific or more extensive servicing.
The cost of the generator (initial investment) spread over its useful life
Expect to pay $30,000 to $450,000 for a reliable liquid nitrogen generator, depending on its daily production volume and quality. For example, a large generator that has the capacity to produce 960 liters per day costs around $435,000, while a medium-sized generator that produces 65 liters per day costs around $63,000.
Running cost, that is mainly power consumption
A generator needs, on average, around 0.5kWh to produce 1 liter of liquid hydrogen. And, in the United States of America, the average electricity cost for business customers is $0.12 per kWh. So, you will spend around $0.10 per liter to produce liquid nitrogen on-site.
The cost of purchasing liquid nitrogen in bulk
Over the past decade, bulk nitrogen delivery has been losing popularity because of the risks associated with deliveries and price volatility.
For instance, during the past five years, the costs have increased twice a year. Suppliers spend only around $0.0017 per liter to produce liquid nitrogen but sell it for $0.75 to $1.40 per liter, which is forty times its production cost.
Also, most sellers will only include the cost of LN2 per container before delivery. This means that the miscellaneous, delivery, and storage costs are yet to be considered. Actually, purchasing liquid nitrogen in bulk comes with several hidden expenses that most buyers fail to take into consideration at first because of a lack of available information.
Plus, there are some unpredictable, but unavoidable costs related to purchasing nitrogen in bulk like the storage costs.
The hidden costs of storing liquid nitrogen
You will have to store the liquid nitrogen somewhere if you choose to get it in bulk. You can rent or invest in high-pressure cylinders. There are commonly used micro-bulk dewars, which are stainless-steel vessels, to store and move LN2.
Large tanks are used by businesses with high demand to store high volumes of liquified gas.
The cost of the cylinder is influenced by factors such as storage capacity, condition, and brand. For example, you will have to pay $4,550 for a new dewar with a capacity of 230L.
But you need to consider some more expenses. For instance, off-gassing may use 5% of your nitrogen supply every single day. This is a part of the nitrogen you paid for and not consumed.
In general, businesses choose to rent tanks and dewars, but their condition will affect their storage capacity and LN2 retaining efficiency.
You have to take into consideration all the necessary installation, permissions, and planning costs when renting/purchasing a tank. For example, you must consider the costs of the land and concrete plinth that can handle considerable weight and size.
Also, the tanks have to be maintained, and this cost is supported by the client, not the tank owner.
Frequent transports determine unpredictable losses
Once the storage problem is solved, you will have to schedule delivered nitrogen with a supplier.
When using micro-bulk dewars, the seller changes empty dewars with pre-filled ones.
When using tanks, a truck comes to your facility and pumps LN2 into the cylinder.
The delivery costs are affected by the distance between the supplier and your facility. Unfortunately, costs are greatly affected by the increase in oil prices.
As with bulk deliveries, a portion of the supply is inevitably wasted. Experienced businesses bear an additional 5 to 15%.
Even though you paid for it, some liquid nitrogen remains in dewars and returns to the seller.
But the most important is that supply shortages and delivery delays can cause missed business opportunities, increased pressure, and operational blockage.
Tips for cost savings
You can control your costs with liquid nitrogen with the help of a generator as you will go for nitrogen gas generation only when you need it. This way you will also avoid the uncertainties related to deliveries and the oof-gassing cost.
In general, businesses that invest in a nitrogen generator and other necessary equipment make an ROI between six months and one year and a half after they began to use the generator. For example, a clinic for bio-storage that used to order 4×230 L dewars every week was able to save $35,000 per year after installing a 65L/day generator.
If you insist on buying it from industrial suppliers, make sure you search around and compare quotes to make sure you get the best price.