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Chilling Thoughts - bigbumble
June 16th, 2008
07:37 pm

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Chilling Thoughts
I really like liquid nitrogen. My father would occasionally bring some home from the Upjohn research complex where he worked. We would freeze flowers and shatter them, freeze stretched rubber bands and watch them writhe as they thawed, and enjoy the twin delicacies of frozen marshmallow peeps and frozen whip cream. At first he brought the LN2 home in a glass thermos bottle. After breaking several of the glass linings, he gave me a 2 liter silvered glass laboratory dewar for my birthday. -I still have it and use it from time to time.

In graduate school I used liquid nitrogen to freeze a solvated reagent used in a highly exothermic reaction. That allowed me to make large amounts of product without a volcanic eruption from the reaction flask.

I have given various demonstrations of the properties of liquid nitrogen including ice cream making, balloon shrinking, lead ringing, super conductivity, etc.

For some time I had liquid nitrogen delivered to my home by a cattle breeding service. The main customers of the service were for the semen tanks at dairies or other breeding operations. Unfortunately, the service only delivered every other month. That is frequent enough to keep semen frozen, but not often enough if you want to play with liquid nitrogen. Now, I could go to a welding shop to pick it up if I needed it, but that would mean that I would actually have to plan ahead.

A few years back I located a company that sold LN2 generators for about $20,000. Definitely out of my league at the time. Last summer I found a company on the web that puts out an Elan 2 liquid nitrogen generator with a 20 liter or so dewar. They have a similar version with a 1 liter dewar for doctor's offices. (Used for wart freezing, I presume.) I sent an email off for a quote on the price and never heard back.

Now, Halloween is a busy day for me. I live in the classic suburban area where every kid for a thousand miles around descends like a locust. I was so busy handing out candy that I never had time to read my email last Halloween. Then I few days ago, I was checking old emails for some reason and found a reply from the company. The price is $13,500. Ridiculous! I can't afford that! Except I can. I have the money in the bank. That money is for a new car. My current car is 11 years old. My mortgage is paid for. I am saving that much a year. If my car can hold together for just one more year...

I mean, liquid nitrogen on tap!

Somebody stop me!!! Aaaaeeee!

Current Mood: enthralledenthralled

(10 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments
 
[User Picture]
From:peteralway
Date:June 17th, 2008 01:05 am (UTC)
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Come on, you know you want to.

Buy it.
[User Picture]
From:robin_june
Date:June 17th, 2008 01:59 am (UTC)
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My workplace, the new Physics Research Building, (the one with no functional distilled water plumbing), has its own liquid nitrogen silo.

My lab uses LN2 frequently for snap-freezing cells & proteins that would be ruined by simply putting them directly in the -80C freezer until tomorrow. But, our dewar is the foot-high, half-foot-diameter, wide-mouth silver glass thermos-type bowl. Try to fill the dewar directly from the silo's spigot, and the LN2 wouldn't stay inside -- the flow is too strong.

Thus, we need to mooch off of the people who have the big containers, that almost as tall as me, and as wide as 4 gas tanks bundled together. The downside is that we can't get to those on weekends or evenings.

Now, my boss is foolhardy brave enough to stick bare skin in the LN2, and count on it not penetrating the layer of moisture to do damage, but me, well, I've actually got other uses for my guitar calluses and fingerpick fingernails, thankyouverymuch. I went to the grocery store and found a pair of metal "wire" tongs with the handle dipped in rubber. These tongs are very handy for the instantaneous-ness required when I grab my sample tubes out of the dewar and sling them into the -80C freezer before the door has been open for longer than 15 seconds and the obnoxious freezer alarm starts screaming. (It hates me. Nobody else in the lab believes me, but it hates me.)

Take care that only tall people are standing at floor level when you dispense into a warm dewar -- that fog always makes me think of pets, children and midgets getting asphyxiated while I wait there to fill my "bucket."
[User Picture]
From:catsittingstill
Date:June 17th, 2008 02:16 pm (UTC)
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Liquid Nitrogen is fun!

But $13,500? That's um, a rather big fun budget. Not to snow on your parade or anything.

The other thing you might want to check is how much it costs to run, and how much it costs to service.

Is there a lab near you that desperately wants one but can't quite afford it? Maybe you could share.

Because Liquid Nitrogen is fun!
[User Picture]
From:peteralway
Date:June 17th, 2008 05:17 pm (UTC)
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Oh, Cat, Bob's never going to do anything foolish and irresponsible with that attitude. I know that you could apply better peer pressure than that if you just put your mind to it!
[User Picture]
From:bigbumble
Date:June 17th, 2008 11:26 pm (UTC)
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The problem is, liquid nitrogen generators don't order themselves like mimmoths do.
[User Picture]
From:bigbumble
Date:June 17th, 2008 11:20 pm (UTC)

Maybe you could share.

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Tullio wants to share.(see below)
[User Picture]
From:trollhagen
Date:June 17th, 2008 05:39 pm (UTC)
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Is there any way to make your current car liquid-nitrogen propelled?!
[User Picture]
From:bigbumble
Date:June 17th, 2008 11:28 pm (UTC)
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I don't know about my car, but powering my tricycle with liquid nitrogen is an interesting possibility.
[User Picture]
From:trollhagen
Date:June 18th, 2008 03:44 pm (UTC)
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Well, there you go (zoom zoom)--you won't NEED a car, so that frees up your money for chemistry fun!
[User Picture]
From:tullio42
Date:June 17th, 2008 09:52 pm (UTC)
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If you get it then techies will come from miles around just to knock on your door and ask, "Can I borrow a cup of liquid nitrogen?" - I know I would!
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