Nitrogen is a colourless, odourless and tasteless gas which makes up 78 percent of the volume of the earth's atmosphere. Nitrogen is non-toxic, but in high concentrations can have a lethal effect (danger of suffocation) on living beings.
Nitrogen is an inert gas and can therefore be used as a shielding gas for welding and laser cutting. Nitrogen is also used in many other areas of industry. It is useful as a coolant, as a protective gas for food packaging. Nitrogen compounds are contained in fertilizers and explosives.
Nitriding uses nitrogen to harden the surface of steel.
Nitrogen as inert gas
Nitrogen can be extracted directly by chemical processes from the air we breathe. Due to its quantity and worldwide availability, nitrogen is much cheaper to obtain than helium, argon and other inert gases.
Nitrogen displaces the oxygen in the breathing air and prevents oxidation of the molten metal during thermal processing. Weld seams produced with shielding gases have a much higher quality and are more durable. During laser cutting, nitrogen prevents the formation of scale and slag and improves the quality of the laser parts on the cut edges.
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