The Facts About Cryogenic Equipment

By Grace Rivas

Realistically, the word "cryogenic" is not commonly used in everyday situations. Therefore, most people don't have much of an idea of what it means. Here is some information about what cryogenic means, how cryogenic equipment is used and what makes these important.

Cryogenics is a complex word which originates from Greek language. While Kryos means freezing or cold, Genes means generated. The word therefore means any material which is generated or born with the specific feature of being freezing cold.

Certain gases become liquids when held in precise environmental conditions. They remain in a gaseous state except when subjected to very low temperatures and precise atmospheric pressure. There are several reasons why a liquid state for a gas might be important.

Known cryogenics gases include liquid oxygen, helium, hydrogen and nitrogen. Each of these gases have an extremely low boiling point (-51 C or -60 F). The most commonly used gas is nitrogen because it is easy to buy. Cryogenics can only be worked with in a special environment such as medical institutes and laboratories.

There are many fields in which super-chilled gases are valuable. When choosing ways to preserve organic materials, for instance, such as food, the product is kept in a preserved state more effectively. Research on how organisms react to very cold temperatures is another purpose for research. Very cold temperatures can be used in some surgeries, or in studies about super-conductivity. When highly flammable materials are being handled, cold may provide a level of safety. Some liquid gases are used as fuel.

One common object used in research locations to handle super-chilled materials is the Dewar Flask. This object was invented by James Dewar who is credited with being the first individual to successfully bring hydrogen to a liquid state. The flask consists of a double wall with glass inside. The second layer helps to protect the researcher from the damage to skin that could occur otherwise. Both protection against cold and a structure that maintains the right pressure are offered by this device.

The transfer pump is a special device used to transfer the liquid gases to the equipment. The pump must operate in extreme cold and sometimes under significant pressure. Pressure vessels are specific storing and cooling devices that can operate under extremes of cold and pressure. To maintain the air purity in laboratory conditions, there may be devices known as lab purifiers. Cold traps are another device that helps in cleaning under vacuum conditions. Specialty valves may come in a variety of sizes, shapes and materials to match the specific use being demanded of it.

When there is research under conditions of extreme cold, cryogenic equipment exists to ensure that the lab results are accurate and replicable. Because the stresses of temperature and pressure placed on the equipment, high quality is crucial. Safety of the handler is critical and so is the protection of the sometimes costly equipment and processes. When an experiment is conducted under such conditions, it is critically important to be able to depend upon the results obtained in the experiment. If used in a commercial application, safe and easy handling of the liquid gases is vital.

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