Many industries use different types of gasses, and they have unique properties with other practical applications. Being one such element, liquid nitrogen is more famous for its use in making ice cream. And other than science and engineering, it has also been used in various industries for a long time.
Scroll down to know more about this special gas and its uses.
What Is It?
- Liquified nitrogen forms at a low temperature while it boils at around -195.8˚C. It is produced in various industries through fractional distillation of liquid air.
- Polish physicists Zygmunt Wróblewski and Karol Olszewski were the first scientists to liquify nitrogen in 1883.
- Nitrogen in a liquid state is colourless, has a low viscosity, and is used by many industries as a coolant. It is also odourless, non-toxic, and is non-flammable.
- One property of liquified nitrogen is it is slightly lighter than air at room temperature. It is also water-soluble.
- You need special vented and insulated containers to avoid pressure build-up to store liquified nitrogen. The container, also known as a Dewar flask, can hold liquified nitrogen for a few hours to a few weeks.
- Liquified nitrogen boils quickly, and it surrounds surfaces with insulation made of nitrogen gas. This rapid boiling is the Leidenfrost effect, which explains why nitrogen droplets look like beads that skid across a surface.
How to Handle Liquefied Nitrogen
Because liquified nitrogen is nitrogen in a unique state, there are recommended ways to handle it properly.
- Wear Proper Safety Gear: Liquid nitrogen can easily cause frostbites when in contact with tissue. It is why it is important to wear safety gear to avoid inhalation or direct contact with its vapour.
- Do Not Put It in a Sealed Container: The rapid boiling of liquified nitrogen can cause it to generate pressure in a short amount of time. Therefore, you can’t store it in a sealed container as it has the potential to explode.
- Be Careful of Handling Large Quantities: Large quantities of liquified nitrogen will cause a decrease in oxygen in the air, resulting in asphyxiation risks. So, make sure the area is well-ventilated when using liquified nitrogen.
- Handle It Under Expert Supervision: Liquified nitrogen can have dangerous effects when not handled properly. It can accumulate condensed oxygen in the air, increasing the risk of organic matter oxidis
Different Uses of Liquified Nitrogen
Aside from its industrial applications, liquified nitrogen has a variety of uses.
- Food Transportation: Food manufacturers use liquified nitrogen when transporting organic goods to maintain their freshness. They use trucks cooled with liquified nitrogen to freeze and transport different food like meat products and other frozen goods.
- Laboratory Science: Some laboratory samples need to be frozen when conducting various experiments. Liquified nitrogen is used in cryopreservation to store biological samples like animal tissue, sperm cells, or egg cells.
- Industrial Technology: Liquified nitrogen is also used as components in industrial machinery like superconductors and vacuum pumps.
- Health and Medicine: Technological advances in medicine have gone far as using liquified nitrogen for cryotherapy in removing skin abnormalities like warts and moles.
- Other uses: One of the liquified nitrogen’s popular uses is to make ice cream. Aside from that, it is also used in flash-freezing organic materials like flowers.
Science and technology have gone so far as to utilise liquified nitrogen for a wide array of uses. However, always remember to take safety measures when handling such substances.