We attend a lot of exhibitions and industry showcases, where we take the opportunity to share our knowledge of gas monitoring and network with like-minded people. On our return, we take the time to fill in a short document detailing who we met, what the exhibition was like and the lessons we learned – something we can share with our colleagues who may have not been able to attend.
We went to the Europe Industrial Gas Conference in June and came home with lots of interesting feedback. One of the main things we noticed was a lot of industry delegates kept referring to something called ‘air gas’. This intrigued us, and we were keen to find out more.
So… what is an air gas?
Simply put, this refers to the collection of gases which make up the composition of the earth’s atmosphere. Oxygen (O2), Nitrogen (N2) and Argon (Ar), as well as a number of trace gases.
The proportion of gases in the atmosphere has stayed the same for the last 200 million years – bearing in mind that humans have only existed for about 200,000 years. Before then, it is believed that the atmosphere consisted of mostly carbon dioxide (CO2) and Ammonia (NH3). Levels of carbon dioxide were reduced when the gas became dissolved in the oceans and locked up in fossil fuels.
Many people are surprised to know that the main gas in the atmosphere isn’t oxygen, but nitrogen. Nitrogen is an inert (unreactive) gas which is formed when ammonia and oxygen react together. Once formed, it is hard to remove nitrogen from the atmosphere.
Oxygen is the next abundant gas. Oxygen is created by photosynthesis – the process used by plants where they absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. As you are probably aware, oxygen is essential to sustain living organisms.
Argon makes up just under 1% of the rest of the atmosphere. Like nitrogen, argon is an inert gas. Outside of the earth’s atmosphere, argon is commonly used inside light bulbs – as the metal filament inside the bulb will burn away if the bulb is filled with air.
The remaining 0.1% of the atmosphere consists of trace gases including:
Is air gas dangerous?
No. Although gases like nitrogen and argon can be dangerous at elevated levels, the percentage of gases in the atmosphere are not harmful to health.
Although the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is gradually increasing due to the burning of fossil fuels, it is still not at a level high enough to cause danger to human life. Currently, the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is 0.04%. At the start of the 18th Century, it was 0.028%.
Although the levels of gases in the atmosphere are safe, it is still imperative to measure gases in an industrial environment, especially in confined spaces, as the ratio of gases in the atmosphere can change quickly, with potentially devastating consequences.
Nitrogen and argon are denser than air and elevated levels can cause asphyxiation by replacing oxygen in the atmosphere. A drop to 15% oxygen is enough to cause oxygen deprivation.
To prevent this from happening, find out how Analox Sensor Technology can help you monitor a wide range of gases, including air gas, today.
Author: Kate Ingham, Digital Marketing Executive
Founded in 1981, Analox Sensor Technology provides niche and custom gas detection solutions to industries including beverage and fast food, commercial diving and laboratories. Analox has over 325 years of collective, specialist electronics and software engineering expertise, as well as a worldwide distributor network. Contact us to see how we can provide expert gas monitoring solutions and help you achieve your goals.