The cost of liquid nitrogen in the United States ranges from $0.13 to $1.78 per litter depending on whether it’s produced on-site or bought from a supplier (delivered in bulk).
- Producing liquid nitrogen on-site is very economical and can costs as low as $0.13 per litter.
- When purchased in bulk from a supplier, LN2 prices varies between $0.51 and $1.78 based on the location.
This article explains the economics behind the two liquid nitrogen supply methods — from investment to hidden costs.
The Cost of Liquid Nitrogen Produced On-Site
In order to calculate the cost of generating liquid nitrogen on-site, a business must account for:
• The generator’s price (initial investment) spread over its useful life;
• Running cost, which is mainly power consumption
The Cost of The Generator
Reliable liquid nitrogen generators cost between $30,000 and $450,000. The price depends on the quality of the generator and its daily production volume.
For instance, our medium-sized generator that produces 65 L/Day costs $ 62,100. And larger models that produce up to 960 L/Day cost $432,650.
On average, generators require between 0.5 kWh to produce 1 litters of liquid nitrogen. And the average electricity price for business customers in the United States is 11.78 cents per kWh. So producing one litter of liquid nitrogen on-site only costs $0.1767 /Litter.
Maintaining a liquid nitrogen generator is critical to ensure its lifespan and efficiency. Luckily, annual servicing averages at $1,000.
In fact, at Rutherford & Titan, our standard service kit costs $650 and can be fitted by in-house staff following our training. It includes includes filters and electrical components such as fuses and relays.
More extensive or specific servicing needs do require the intervention of a qualified technician.
The Real Cost of Buying Nitrogen in Bulk
Bulk nitrogen delivery has been losing popularity over the past decade because of price volatility and many risks related to deliveries.
First, prices have increased twice a year during the past five years. And while it costs suppliers less than $0.0016/litter to produce it, selling price varies between $0.70 and $1.33 per litter — 40 times the cost of production.
Second, most suppliers will only include the price of LN2 per container before delivery. In other words, storage, delivery, and miscellaneous expenses are yet to be computed. In fact, buying LN2 in bulk comes with several hidden costs that most businesses fail to consider at first — due to the lack of information available.
Last, there are unpredictable — yet almost unavoidable — costs tied to buying nitrogen in bulk such as the cost of storage.
Storing LN2 Comes with a Set of Hidden Costs
Buying LN2 in bulk requires storing it. You’ll need to invest in or rent high-pressure cylinders:
- Micro-bulk dewars are stainless-steel vessels commonly used to move and store LN2.
- Businesses with high demand use large tanks to hold high volumes of liquified gas.
The price of cylinders depends on their brand, condition, and storage capacity. For instance, a new 230L dewar cost $4,500.
But that’s not all. There are hidden costs to storing liquified gas
- Every single day, Off-gassing can use as much as 5% of your nitrogen supply — a portion of your nitrogen paid for and not consumed.
- Most businesses will rent dewars and tanks. But their condition — which is very hard to assess — impacts their capacity to store and retain LN2 efficiently.
- When buying/renting a tank, you need to consider the necessary planning, permissions, and installation costs. For instance, you’ll have to account for the land and concrete plinth that can manage the considerable size and weight.
- Tanks will need to be maintained as well, a cost that is passed on to the customer, not the tank owner.
Frequent Deliveries Lead To Unpredictable Losses
Now that storage is sorted, you’ll need to schedule deliveries with a supplier.
- When using tanks: a truck arrives at your facility and pumps liquid nitrogen into the cylinder.
- When using micro-bulk dewars: the supplier swaps empty dewars with pre-filled ones.
The distance between your facility and the supplier should dictate the delivery costs. Unfortunately, prices are heavily impacted by soaring oil prices.
Experienced businesses incur an extra 5 to 15% because receiving bulk deliveries means you’ll inevitably waste a portion of your supply.
- Some LN2 will remain in dewars and return to the supplier although you paid for it.
- More importantly, delivery delays and supply shortages may cause operational blockage, increased pressure, and missed business opportunities.
How To Save on Your Next Liquid Nitrogen Bill
Compared to bulk delivery, a generator help control the cost of nitrogen supply by generating supply when needed. It eliminates the cost of off-gassing and the uncertainties related to devilries.
Most companies that invest in a nitrogen generators make an ROI between 6 and 18 months after they start using the generator.
Success stories — Using On-Site Generators
Our client IVF Michigan, a clinic for bio-storage used to order 4×230 L dewars every week. After installing our 65L/day generator, they started saving $35,000 a year.
Another example is University of Atmospheric Research that wasn’t able to source LN2 for a project in Falkands. Our generators allowed them to produce enough nitrogen for their project at an affordable cost.
Free Consultation — Pricing, Installation, and Piping
If you are interested in controlling your liquid nitrogen supply and establishing a reliable budget, you can contact us at Rutherford & Titan.