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Safetygram #7

Liquid Nitrogen

General inner vessel. Vaporizers convert the liquid nitrogen
to its gaseous state. A pressure control manifold
Liquid nitrogen is inert, colorless, odorless, non- controls the pressure at which the gas is fed to
corrosive, nonflammable, and extremely cold. the process. Processes that use nitrogen as a
Nitrogen makes up the major portion of the atmo- liquid do not require the vaporizers and pressure
sphere (78.03% by volume, 75.5% by weight). control manifold.
Nitrogen is inert and will not support combustion;
however, it is not life supporting. Physical and chemical properties are listed
in Table 1.
Nitrogen is inert except when heated to very high
temperatures where it combines with some of the Manufacture
more active metals, such as lithium and magne-
sium, to form nitrides. It will also combine with Nitrogen is produced at air separation plants by
oxygen to form oxides of nitrogen and, when com- liquefaction of atmospheric air and separation of
bined with hydrogen in the presence of catalysts, the nitrogen by continuous cryogenic distillation.
will form ammonia. The nitrogen is then recovered as a cryogenic
Since nitrogen is noncorrosive, special materials
of construction are not required to prevent corro- Uses
sion. However, materials of construction must be
Nitrogen is the largest volume inorganic chemical
selected to withstand the low temperature of liquid
sold in the world, supporting a multitude of com-
nitrogen. Vessels and piping should be designed to
mercial and technical applications. In its liquid
American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)
state, nitrogen is used for food freezing, plastic
specifications or the Department of Transportation
and rubber deflashing and grinding, cooling, metal
(DOT) codes for the pressures and temperatures
treating, biological sample preservation, pulveriza-
tion, and other temperature-related applications.
Although used more commonly in the gaseous
state, nitrogen is commonly stored and transported Health Effects
as a liquid, affording a more cost-effective way of
Being odorless, colorless, tasteless, and nonirritat-
providing product supply.
ing, nitrogen has no warning properties. Humans
When nitrogen is converted to liquid form it possess no senses that can detect the presence
becomes a cryogenic liquid. Cryogenic liquids are of nitrogen. Although nitrogen is nontoxic and
liquefied gases that have a normal boiling point inert, it can act as a simple asphyxiant by displac-
below –238°F (–150°C). Liquid nitrogen has a ing the oxygen in air to levels below that required
boiling point of –320.5°F (–195.8°C). The tem- to support life. Inhalation of nitrogen in excessive
perature difference between the product and the amounts can cause dizziness, nausea, vomiting,
surrounding environment, even in winter, is sub- loss of consciousness, and death. Death may
stantial. Keeping this surrounding heat from the result from errors in judgment, confusion, or loss
product requires special equipment to store and of consciousness that prevents self-rescue. At
handle cryogenic liquids. low oxygen concentrations, unconsciousness and
death may occur in seconds and without warning.
A typical system consists of the following com-
ponents: a cryogenic storage tank, one or more Personnel, including rescue workers, should
vaporizers, a pressure and temperature control not enter areas where the oxygen concentra-
system. The cryogenic tank is constructed like, in tion is below 19.5%, unless provided with a
principle, a vacuum bottle. It is designed to keep self-contained breathing apparatus or air-line
heat away from the liquid that is contained in the respirator.

” Liquid Nitrogen Physical and Chemical Properties Extensive tissue damage or burns can result Chemical Formula N2 from exposure to liquid nitrogen or cold nitrogen Molecular Weight 28. vapor pressure buildup or an external pressure of liquid product to gas.967 of vaporization vary. For cryogenic liquid lines are used to withdraw product from storage jacketed pressure vessels. the transfer line is connected to the tanks. Storage Density.399 Btu/lb mole specifications for the temperatures and pressures Expansion Ratio. source to remove the liquid. These Figure 2a containers operate at pressures up to 350 psig A Typical Dewar Typical Cryogenic Liquid Cylinder. This type of con. 1 atm 50. Boiling Point @ 1 atm –320. Table 1 spheres. Liquid Level Gauge Product may be withdrawn as a gas by passing Handling Ring Handling Post liquid through an internal vaporizer or as a liquid Annular Space under its own vapor pressure. consult Air Products’ Safetygram #27.” (Optional) Outer Vessel Rubber Shock Cryogenic Storage Tanks Mounts A typical customer installation (see Figure 3) Foot Ring includes a tank. while larger sizes will require a transfer tube. Liquid to Gas. equipped with various circuits to control product tainer is a nonpressurized container.0°C) Liquid nitrogen is stored. . and a pressure control manifold.0°F (–210. Gas @ 68°F (20°C). pressure relief.5°F (–195. A typical transfer line for dewars is connected to Liquid product is typically removed through Cryogenic Liquid Cylinders a bayonet that provides a means of using product insulated withdrawal lines to minimize the loss Figure 2 shows a typical cryogenic liquid cylinder. Since heat leak is always pres- ent. cryogenic liquid cylinder.000 gallons and all tanks are powder. Tanks may be spherical or cylindrical Dewars in shape. product measure for the capacity of a dewar is typically withdrawal.9°C) in several types of containers.808 the container and the volume of stored product. and tank vacuum.80 scf/lb Containers are designed and manufactured according to the applicable codes and Latent Heat of Vaporization 2. The unit of fill. Sizes range from 500 Typical Cryogenic Liquid Cylinder. They are mounted in fixed locations as Figure 2b Figure 1 illustrates a typical. For more details on Rupture Disk the construction and operation of cryogenic liquid Inner Vessel Vent Tube Gas Use Liquid Tube cylinders. a vaporizer. Vaporizer Float Assembly “Cryogenic Liquid Containers. 1 atm 0. Five to 200 liter dewars are available. Figure 1 protect the cylinders from pressure buildup. Tanks are Valve Gauge Disk Valve Valve Gauge Disk from vaporized liquid to escape. 1 atm 0. shipped and handled Critical Temperature –232. consult Air Products’ Safetygram #17. manufacturer. Liquid @ BP. and cryogenic storage tank.For more information on oxygen-deficient atmo.and Vent Pressure Rupture Vent Relief Pressure Rupture from plugging the neck and allows gas produced vacuum-insulated in the annular space.5 atm) containers in use are the dewar. vacuum. “Dangers of Oxygen-Deficient Atmospheres. Density. Specific Volume @ 68°F (20°C). Connections on the lines and tanks vary by with safety relief valves and rupture discs to cylinder’s liquid withdrawal valve. Gas (air=1) @ 68°F (20°C). Rates Specific Gravity. BP to 68°F (20°C 1 to 694 involved.45 lb/scf quantities vary from a few liters to many thou.3 psia (33.8°C) Containers Freezing Point @ 1 atm –346.01 vapors. Liquid (water=1) @ 68°F (20°C). vaporization takes place continuously. Transfer Lines Pressure Liquid Pressure Building Building Economizer Liquid Gas ized vessels are sometimes incorrectly referred to A liquid transfer line is used to safely remove liquid Valve Regulator Valve Regulator Valve Disk as dewars. The types of Critical Pressure 492. Insulated flexible or rigid Cryogenic liquid cylinders are insulated. Cryogenic liquid cylinders that are pressur. and have capacities between 80 and 450 liters of side view liquid. pressure buildup. pouring. to ASME specifications for the pressures and tem- Product may be removed from small dewars by peratures involved. 1 atm 13. A loose fitting dust cap over the outlet of sis for easy transportation.5°F (–146. Tanks are designed the liter. depending on the design of Specific Gravity. product from dewars or cryogenic liquid cylinders. They come equipped cylinders.0725 lb/scf sands of gallons. vacuum-jacketed stationary vessels or on railroad car or truck chas- dewar. depending upon the quantity required by the user. 1 atm 0. top view the neck tubes prevents atmospheric moisture to 420.

2. Keep all valves closed and outlet caps in place when not in use. remove or long-sleeved shirts and pants without cuffs. self-contained breathing DOT Shipping Name: Nitrogen. 2. ties and safety considerations before being allowed ing liquid nitrogen at pressures greater than 25 Storage and Handling to handle liquid nitrogen and/or its associated psig (40 psia) need to be designed. and tested to DOT specifications. If possible move the cylinder to a remote standard CGA outlets. Valves provided for the with. exposure to cold temperatures. When moving gen containers. “Safe Handling of Cryogenic Shipment of Liquid Nitrogen Liquids”. Never allow any unprotected part of the body to come in contact First Aid Safety Considerations with uninsulated pipes or equipment containing cryogenic product. handled and for those involved with the handling of liquid nitro- DOT Shipping Label: Nonflammable Gas (Fig.On liquid systems pressure relief devices must be used in lines where there is the potential to trap liquid between valves. Use only the properly assigned con- confined work areas. in inadequately vented equipment. Review the liquid vendor for instructions. Refrigerated Liquid. moved to fresh air. cially whenever the possibility of exposure or a spill DOT Hazard Class: 2. On gas withdrawal systems use check valves or other protective apparatus to prevent reverse flow into the container. and CGA Pamphlet P-12. overpressurization due to expansion If there is any difficulty in operating the container ficult. not pulling. It is recom- mended that all vents be piped to the exterior of the building. Do not store containers in a confined area or Eyes are most sensitive to the extreme cold of liquid For air shipments. in area unprotected from the extremes of weather. A minimum of six air handling of cryogenic liquids refer to Air Products’ changes per hour are suggested in these areas. Use Identification Number: UN1977 a suitable hand truck for moving smaller contain. at less than 25 psig (40 psia) pressure are Personal Protective Equipment OSHA has established 19. Move larger containers by pushing. Do not use adaptors. nections. Restrictions and blockages outlets. These are contain- as the minimum for working without supplied air. Do not remove or interchange ation due to displacement of oxygen in the air in connections. manufactured. If breathing is dif- severe burns. connections used for gaseous withdrawal. attempt to remove the restriction without proper in- drawal of liquid product are also equipped with Buildings structions. apparatus (SCBA) must be used. Suitable pressure regulating equipment nitrogen Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS).2 exists. 4) transported in the upright position. administer oxygen. periodically vent product. nitrogen and its vapors. all packages must be in compli. This Because of the large expansion ratio of liquid to gas. In emergency situations. Safetygram-16. use oxygen monitoring equipment to test material present in openings and vents contact the standard Compressed Gas Association (CGA) for oxygen-deficient atmospheres. “The Safe Provide monitoring for areas where oxygen dis- Handling of Cryogenic Liquids”. is to prevent cross connections between pro. Containers used for transporting liquid nitrogen placement may occur. The recommended personal ance with International Air Transport Association/ Cryogenic containers are equipped with pressure protective equipment when handling or using liquid International Civil Air Organization (IATA/ICAO) relief devices designed to control the internal pres. Do not may be attached. If the victim is not breathing. Some elastomers and A Typical Customer Station with a Nonflammable Gas Shipping Label metals. (PPE) ers built to other than DOT specifications but are authorized by the DOT for use in the transport of Remember. and regulations. except none for cargo tanks under 23 psig never tip. If NOTE: Liquid cylinders designed to dispense If oxygen-deficient atmospheres are suspected or restriction results from freezing moisture or foreign gaseous nitrogen have valves equipped with can occur. contact the vendor. UN1977 Avoid mechanical and thermal shock. may result in damgerous over-pressurization. In addition. Containers used for transport. and asphyxi. slide or roll containers on their side. Under normal conditions these containers will loose-fitting thermal insulated or leather gloves. These materials must be avoided in cryogenic service. as well as DOT sure. nitrogen has no warning properties! Personnel must be thoroughly familiar with proper- approved products. nitrogen is a full faceshield over safety glasses. Do not plug. equipment. ers. but are different than the location. safety shoes are recommended Cryogenic containers must be stored. The extreme cold will cause flesh People suffering from lack of oxygen should be The hazards associated with liquid nitrogen are to stick fast and potentially tear on withdrawal.5% oxygen concentration UN/DOT authorized containers. Store and use liquid containers with adequate venti- lation. it is very important to provide adequate ventilation For additional information on the storage and cesses using liquid or gaseous product. which can cause administer artificial respiration. Liquid containers should not be left open to the atmosphere for extended periods. may become brittle at Cryogenic Storage Tank extremely low temperatures and may easily frac- ture. Use only transfer lines and equipment designed for Figure 3 Figure 4 use with cryogenic liquids. such as carbon steel. . in areas using liquid nitrogen. espe- tamper with any pressure relief device. Dangerous Goods Regulations. Obtain immediate medical of small amounts of liquid into large volumes of gas valve or container connections discontinue use and attention.

As painful. products Technical Information Center Information Sources • Call: +1-800-752-1597 (U.S. For skin contact with cryogenic liquid nitrogen. Inc.com/productsafety © Air Products and Chemicals. It will become swollen. If the eyes are exposed to the extreme cold of the remove any clothing that may restrict circulation liquid nitrogen or its vapors. Inc. and prone to infection when thawed. 7 days a week upon by the recipient when establishing appro- priate procedures for his or her own operation. and may result in a container failure. Call rescue personnel. and Puerto Rico) and Product Safety Information ranty of any kind is made in respect thereto. 7201 Hamilton Boulevard tell me more Allentown.S. ing equipment and instructions are not needed. EST www. 8:00 a. a physician immediately. cover not be directed toward venting nitrogen. www. (Continental U. Safetygrams. immediately warm to the frozen area.m.airproducts.com/productsafety Such statements and information are given for • Call: +1-610-481-7711 (other locations) general use only and should not be solely relied • 24 hours a day. Do not rub frozen parts.com • Fax: +1-610-481-8690 • E-mail: gastech@airproducts. water streams must frozen part of the body has been thawed. Inc. technical information and recommendations • Call: +1-800-523-9374 • For MSDS.–5:00 p. 2006  (25932) 900-06-008-US . PA 18195-1501 www.airproducts.. pending medical care. as the frostbite area with warm water not exceeding tissue damage may result.) • Compressed Gas Association (CGA) www. Emergency Response System Product Safety Information The accuracy or completeness of all statements. Never use dry heat. has a temperature not in excess of 105°F (40°C). as the the area with a dry sterile dressing with a large water will freeze and plug the pressure relief vent bulky protective covering. special fire fight- a possible yellow color.cganet.com For More Information Corporate Headquarters Air Products and Chemicals.m. 105°F (40°C) and seek immediate medical place the affected area in a warm water bath that attention.americanchemistry. Self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) In the case of massive exposure. If the a note of caution. Fire Fighting Frozen tissue is painless and appears waxy with Since nitrogen is nonflammable. contained herein is not guaranteed and no war. however. As soon as practical.com • Call: +1-610-481-8565 (other locations) • American Chemistry Council • Monday–Friday. • For assistance involving Air Products and Chemicals. remove clothing may be required to prevent asphyxiation of while showering the victim with warm water.

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