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0m:` 15, 1946.
* 2,409,386
Fi1ed_June 30, 1944
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2 Sheets-Sheet l
OCL l5, 1946~
Filed June 50, 1944
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Patented Oct.- 15, 1946
Eric L. Pridonoff, Alhambra, and Arthur J.
Schneider, Pasadena, Calif., assignors to Aero
jet Engineering Corporation, Azusa, Calif., a
corporation of Delaware
Application June 30, 1944, Serial No. 543,042
2 Claims. (Cl. 23-220)
This invention relates to inert gas generators
and has for its object to produce an inert gas
under high pressure.
Inert gases such as nitrogen compressed in
suitable tanks are useful for supplying gas pres
According to our invention we provide a
system for producing such an inert gas under rel
atively high pressure, such as 2500 pounds per
square inch. The system comprises an internal
combustion engine, for example, a gasoline en
gine which burns gasoline and air. The exhaust
gases of such an engine contain the nitrogen '
from the air together with products of combus
tion such as water vapor and carbon compounds.
Diliiculty has heretofore been experienced in
producing nitrogen from an engine exhaust at
such high pressure due to the corrosive effect of
impurities and moisture in the gas. We have
removed these impurities other than the inert
nitrogen by sending the gases through a system
of purifiers and dehydrators associated with a
compressing system so that the gases are made
considerably reduced by giving up a percentage
of their heat, producing steam in the coils of the
bollen The gas then is discharged through
conduit 8 into the gas reheater 9 at a tempera
ture which may for example be around 500° F.
In this reheater 9 the hot gases lose an addi- >
tional amount of heat and their temperature
drops somewhat, say to 472° F. approx. The
gases then pass through the exhaust gas cooling
coil I0 and in doing this their temperature is
lowered to approximately 150° F. which varies
according to the temperature of the surround
ing atmosphere. The above exhaust gas cooling
coil I0, reheater 9 and steam boiler 'I are cooled
by a steady now of air which is delivered by the
blower Il.
The greatly cooled gas is led through conduit
I2 into the refrigerated low pressure drier l5.
The temperature of the dried exhaust gas drops
to approximately 85° which is raised to about 105°
by reheating these gases in the inert gas reheater
S. Conduit I6 leads the reheated gases into the
charcoal chamber I8. A second charcoalcham
ber I9 is provided which enables the operator to
suñ‘iciently d_ry and pure to provide eñ‘îcient pro
duction of the substantially pure nitrogen. In
this way we have succeeded in removing the pres 25 reactivate one of the charcoal chambers while
ence of undesirable components which might in
operating the other charcoal chamber. Such
terfere with the operation by producing corro
reactivation is performed by permitting steam
sive effects.
A feature of our invention resides in the novel
arrangement for driving the compressors from
the engine itself. Other features relate to the
use of refrigerating coolers for producing dehy
dration and a related feature is the use oi a de
hydrator for dehydrating the gases prior to their
being brought to the ultimate high pressure. A
related feature is the use of a puriñer comprising
activated carbon.
Our invention will be better understood from
the following description and accompanying
sheet of drawings in which:
Fig. 1 is a schematic plan view of t a complete
field plant;
Fig. 2 is a perspective view of the unit with
panels in raised position;
Fig. 3 is a perspective view
of the unit with
vertical panels dropped.
p V
Similar numerals refer to similar parts in the
as generated in the steam boiler 1 to wash out
the impurities removed from the exhaust gases.
The charcoal chamber containing a bed of acti
vated carbon absorbs a large part of the nitric
oxides, hydrocarbons and small traces of carbon
dioxide present in the exhaust gases.
Since further drying of the exhaust gases is
more easily and effectively accomplished by rais
ing their pressure, these gases are now led
through conduit 20 and an oil bath filter 20A
into the low pressure cylinder 2| of the multistage
gas compressor 2.
Thereupon the gas passes through an inter
cooler 22 into the second stage cylinder 23 where
its pressure is raised to 200 pounds per square
inch. The pressurized exhaust gas leaves the
second stage cylinder 23 enteringanother inter
cooler 20 and hows through the inlet conduit 25
into the refrigerated high pressure dryer 26.
The temperature of the gas is reduced to 45° F. in
the refrigerated high pressure dryer 2G condens
The engine l is an internal combustion engine,
for example, of the type burning a vaporized hy 50 ing some more of the remaining water vapors,
which are removed by the water trap 28 inserted
drocarbon such as gasoline in air. VThe engine
the outlet conduit 2ï. For ñnal dehydration
drives the multistage compressor 2 and is oper
the gases are directed through conduit 2l into
the silica gel chamber 29 in which their water
content is further reduced to approximatelyv
agents. A suñicient pressure is maintained by 55 .01%. For the iinal pressurizaticn the gas now
the engine to force the exhaust gases through the
ated with a rather rich mixture to obtain an ex
haust gas having a low content of corrosive
various conduits and installations between the
engine and the compressor.
flows through conduit `.til into the third stage
cylinder 3| of the multiple stage gas compressor
2 and is forced through a third intercooler 32 into
Passing these gases through a conduit 3 into
the fourth stage cylinder 33. The gas having a
the steam boiler ‘I in which their temperature is 60 pressure say of 3000 pounds per square inch
leaves the fourth stage cylinder 3.3 and enters
Soft water for the boilerv may be derived from
duit 35, gas filter 39 and gas conduit 31 into the
gas receptacles 33 where they remain stored.
An outlet conduit 39 leads the inert gas under
tor T8. Excess moisture in the steam is trapped
by the steam condensate separator i9 and is
a water softener or other source.
an aftercooler 39 in which its temperature is
The Water flows from the water softener tank
reduced to around 125° F., it being understood
(not shown) through conduit -|| into the steam
that the fluctuations of the gas temperatures are
caused by the compression of the gases. The Cn boiler `|l in which it is vaporized and the steam
iiows through conduit TI into the steam separa
fully compressed gases are now led through con
high pressure to the ñlling nozzle 41|A which is at
tached to the above conduit 39.
In this system of producing an inert gas from
the exhaust gases of an internal combustion en
gine the above cooling may be elfectuated by the
drained to the atmosphere.
Before the steam reaches either activated char
coal chamber |9 or I9 there is a pressure gage
8| and a relief valve `92 installed in the conduit
99. The steam flows for example into the char
coal chamber I8 below the carbon bed through
insertion of a refrigerating system based on Freon 15 valve 92.
Partial condensation occurs when the
steam strikes the cold metal members of the
chamber. The steam removes the impurities col
lected by the carbon bed from` the exhaust gas
the pressure of Freon to between 90 and 120
which are liberated by the high temperature'of
pounds per square inch and the temperature to
approximately 95° F. depending upon external air 20 the steam and the condensate is drained out of
the conical bottom of the chamber through the
temperature. If the pressure in the discharge
steam trap 84 after flowing through the strainer
line 95 between the refrigerant compressor 45
83. rl'he strainer 83 prevents any foreign parti
and the air-cooled Freon condenser 99 exceeds
cles to flow into the steam trap 84 which may be
195 pounds per square inch the relief valve 9B
as` refrigerant. Such refrigerating system com
prises a refrigerant compressor 45 which raises
ventsv the excess pressure of the discharge line 25 damaged thereby.
Conduit 8_5 leads the steam into the second
into the suction line 69. A discharge gage 91
indicating the pressure from the compressor is - charcoal chamber |9 through valve 93>thereby
permitting alternate use of either chamber during
inserted between the said compressor and the
the operation of the inert gas generator. Drain
relief valve 99.
The vaporized Freon is cooled to 85° F. in the 30 outlets 96 and 81 respectively may be shut off
separately by the inserted valves 88 and 99 re
Freon air-cooled refrigerant condenser 99. The
spectively. Pressure relief valves 90 and 9| are
Freon ñows as a liquid into the refrigerant re
installed on chambers I8 and |9 respectively. The
ceiver 59. The liquid Freon passes from receiver
steam pressure of these chambers is thereby reg
59V through conduit 5|, to a T 54 which divides
the stream of Freon into two branches.
ulated and the relief valves will blow off when
One branch directing the Freon into the ther
mal expansion valve 55, the other branch carry
ing it to the expansion valve 55. The Freon is
evaporated in the valve 59 and passes through
coil 5l thereby cooling the exhaust gases as pre 40
93, which may be opened alternately for oper- ì
viously stated. Expansion valve 55 permits evap
oration of Freon which is led through coil 53
thereby eilïectuating the cooling of the exhaust
gases in the refrigerated high pressure dryer 29.
The evaporated Freon is now led into the suc
tion conduit 99 of the refrigeration compressor
45. An evaporator pressure regulator 6| is in
serted in line 69 and maintains a predetermined
evaporator pressure of 25.5 pounds per square
inch in the line between the expansion valves CI:
such pressure reaches 30 pounds per square inch.
Each chamber has, an inlet valve 92 respectively
ating each chamber independently from the other
All of the above units are mounted on a frame
comprising four gas receptacles 33 made of double
extra strong steel pipe and having heavy head
plates welded into their several ends. These tanks
are Welded in pairs to the flanges of two channels
|95 (Fig-` 2,) which are placed parallel to each
other at a distance and are curved upward at
each end,` facilitating their use as skids for the
entire generator. Diagonal cross members secure
the proper spacing of the tanks 38 and channels
|99. A steel plate |92 is welded between the chan
5_5 and 5_6 respectively and the evaporator pres
nels and a bit above the channel web covering
sure regulator, regardless of sudden load changes
the entire bottom of the frame and is curved up
and fluctuations in suction pressure. This pres
ward in a manner which is similar to that of
sure determines the boiling temperature of the
Freon and thereby the temperature of the coils 55 the two channels |99, thereby providing a dirt
proof frame bottom whichy may act as a secondary
in the refrigerated low pressure and high pres
skid and support. An angle iron framer |93 with
sure dryers is maintained at 32° F. by the evap
cross members is welded to the top of the gas
orator pressure regulator. This is a pilot-oper
tanks 39. The outside gas receptacles 39a and
ated piston valve maintaining a set pressure by
G 0 38h are provided with drain valves S45 and 99
a pilot adjustment means.
(Eig. l) respectively.
A steam system is incorporated in the system
A plurality of posts |99 are welded to the angle
for producing an inert gas from the exhaust gases
iron frame |93 supporting a roof |95. The roof
of a gasoline engine and is used to reactivate the
is made of angle iron with channel cross members
bed of activated carbon in the charcoal chamber
having a sheet iron plate welded thereto. An
i9 and |9.
ample opening is provided in the roof above the
The steam system operates with a gear-type
exhaust gas cooling coil I9 which may be closed
boiler feed water pump ‘I9 which meters the feed
by a hinged door |96.
water to the steam boiler -| through conduit 1|
The entire sides formed by the plurality of posts
at pressures up to 30 pounds per square inch.
are enclosed by a plurality 0f panels |91 consisting
Steam is generated by continuously passing 15
of sheet iron welded over an angle iron frame and
gallons per hour of water through the steam boiler
enclosing a thickness of insulating material. The
'i which is located in the exhaust gas conduit 3
vertical panels |91 are hinged at their top to the
angle irons of the roof frame, except the horizon
quently cools the exhaust gases proportionately. 75 tal panel which is second from thev front on the
and the heat of the exhaust gases boil the wa
ter to produce steam at 300° F. which conse
right side and is hinged on one side (not shown).
When the generator unit is to be used each panel
is swung upward and is supported in a horizontal
position by two poles |08 which are hinged to the
inside bottom of the panel. The support poles
|08 are secured at the top inside of the panel
when not in use.
disengaging the clutch. En such a case the refrig
eration compressor should be stopped until the
gas compressor is started again.
From the foregoing description and the at
tached sheets of drawings it can be seen that we
have provided a positive inert gas generator use
ful for field operation.
By reason of the use of the activated carbon
A standard steel pipe |09 is welded between the
I8 and I9 substances which have been
flanges at each curved end of the two channels
especially harmful in producing corrosive effects,
|00 providing towing bars. A part ofthe channel 10 particularly
the oxides of nitrogen, are removed.
web being removed to facilitate easier access to
Since even small traces of nitrogen oxides tend
the towing bars.
to produce corrosion in the presence of moisture,
For the purpose of lifting the generator unit,
especially at the high pressures to which the
cable guides I|0 respectively ||| (Fig. 3) are
nitrogen is ultimately raised, the subsequent eiii
welded to the outside of the channels at each
cient dehydration in the refrigerating coolers 51
end, and to the edge of the roof on both longi
and 53 is especially salutary. By reason of the
tudinal sides near the center of the unit, to guide
low temperatures to which they cool thegases
' the cables when the unit is lifted.
passing through them they separate most of the
When gasoline and air have been used in the
from the gas. The use of the silica gel
engine, a chemical analysis of the purified com 20 moisture
chamber 29 before the gases enter the final high
pressed inert gas has shown the following com
compression stages of the compressors is of espe
position, the proportions being percentages by
cial advantage in removing the last harmful
traces of the water, which if present with oxides
Per cent
of nitrogen in the high compression stages would
25 produce corrosion. By reason of the combina
Nitrogen (N2) ________________________ _- 86
Carbon dioxide (CO2) __________________ __ 12.5
tion and correlation of the stages of purification,
Water (H2O) __________________________ __
dehydration and compression in the manner dis
Carbon monoxide (CO) ________________ __
Oxygen (O2) __________________________ __
closed herein we have produced -a simple and ef
fective pure nitrogen generating system of suffi
When desiring to produce substantially pure 30 ciently small weight and bulk to enable it to be
incorporated into a single portable unit.
nitrogen the partly compressed gases leaving the
intercooler 24 may be passed through conduit 25
We claim:
1. In the production of nitrogen gas at pres
into a small tower 25A containing sodium hy
sures in excess of 500 pounds per square inch
droxide. The sodium hydroxide removes the
from the exhaust gases of an internal combustion
greatest part of the CO2 contained in the "gases,
engine containing a large proportion of nitrogen
which then are led into the refrigerated high
together with oxides of nitrogen and water vapor
pressure drier 26. The remaining process is fully
and involving the cooling of the gas to condense
water vapor, the removal of the water thus con
following composition, the proportions being 40 densed, the treatment of the residual gas with
activated carbon to remove oxides of nitrogen,
approximate percentages by weight:
Per cent
and the compression of the gas thus purified in a
described on page 3 line 13.
The substantially pure nitrogen gas shows the
Nitrogen (N2) _________________________ __ 98.4
Carbon dioxide (CO2) __________________ __
Water (H2O) __________________________ __
Carbon monoxide (CO) ________________ __
Oxygen (O) ____________________________ _„
.01 4.5
multiplicity of stages with cooling between stages,
the improvement which comprises treating the
gas in compressed state after the last cooling
stage and immediately prior` to the final compres
sion stage with silica gel to reduce its water con
tent and thereby reduce the corrosive effect of
For the proper operation of our generator the
any residual oxides of nitrogen in the gas.
following steps may be followed: When starting 50
2. In the production of nitrogen gas at pres
the inert gas generator, the blower I| is started
sures in excess of 500 pounds per square inch
first; the boiler feed water pump is engaged next
from the exhaust gases of an internal combus
and the gasoline engine I is started after its
tion engine containing a large proportion of
clutch has been thrown out disengaging the multi
nitrogen together with oxides of nitrogen and
stage compressor 2. Engine may be left running 55 water vapor and involving the cooling of the gas
for ñve minutes.
to condense water vapor, the removal of the water
After engaging the multistage compressor the
thus condensed, the treatment of the residual gas
bleed valve may be opened for a short time, thus
with activated carbon to remove oxides of nitro
relieving the discharge line 35 and the iilter 31
gen, and the compression of the gas thus puri
whereupon the bleed valve may be closed.
fied in a multiplicity of stages with cooling be
It takes about 45 minutes for the gas com
tween stages, the improvement which comprises
pressor to build up the gas receptacle pressure to
treating the gas in compressed state after the last
3000 pounds per square inch. When this pressure
cooling stage and immediately prior to the final
is reached:
l. The speed of >the gasoline engine should be 65 compression stage with silica gel until its water
content is less than .01%, whereby the corrosive
reduced until the ‘production of inert gas is equal
effect of residual oxides of nitrogen in the gas
to the rate of use,'o rs
is inhibited.
2. Sufficient gas should be bled off through the
bleeder valve 35a to prevent the pressure from
rising further, or
3. The gas compressor should be stopped by
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