Analox Argon Alarm - How is Argon Gas Used?
Analox specialise in monitoring gases including oxygen, carbon dioxide and nitrogen, but we do cater to some of the more unusual gases too. One of these gases is argon.
What is Argon?
Argon (Ar) is a colourless, odourless gas. It is part of the noble gases group, which includes krypton, neon, helium and xenon.
It is an unreactive inert gas, so much so that argon comes from the Greek word for lazy!
Argon was discovered in 1894 and makes up just under 1% of the earth’s atmosphere. As it is so prevalent in the earth’s atmosphere, it is one of the most abundant and cheapest inert gases available for use.
How is Argon Used?
Argon is used as a carrier gas in laboratories as it is so unreactive. A carrier gas carries vapour through a gas chromatograph, helping to test the purity of a specific substance, separating the different components of a mixture or identifying a compound.
In the chemical industry, reactions are often conducted under inert gas rather than air in order to minimize the risk of fire.
Inert gases like argon are used to pack food in order to prevent the growth of bacteria. It can also be used to preserve artefacts. For example, the original document of the US constitution is stored in argon in order to keep it safe and avoid degradation.
A mix of argon and nitrogen gas is used as a filler gas for fluorescent and incandescent lightbulbs; as the inert gases protect the metal filament inside the bulb.
Argon can be mixed with krypton to make windows with a high level of thermal efficiency.
Argon is used in welding as a ‘shielding gas’ in order to keep impurities out of the weld and allow for a smoother, more solid finish. It is either used on its own or in combination with another gas like carbon dioxide.
How is Argon Dangerous?
Inert gases, such as argon, do not support human breathing. A leak of argon into the atmosphere can cause oxygen levels to deplete, leading to asphyxiation.
Normal air usually has an oxygen concentration of 20.9%. A drop to 19% is enough for some people to suffer physiological effects, whilst a drop to 10% can cause loss of consciousness or even death.
Which Argon Alarm is Right for me?
As argon depletes oxygen in the atmosphere, the best way to monitor for an argon leak is to use an oxygen depletion monitor.
Analox offer the O2NE+, an ambient oxygen detection monitor which has two audio-visual alarms, one preset at 19.5% and another set at 18%.
If you also use enriched oxygen, for example in a laboratory, the Safe-Ox+ monitors both oxygen depletion and enrichment, with preset alarms of 23% and 19.5%.