Date: Wed, 15 Jul 2009 09:46:43 -0700
Reply-To: Todd <p3wt3r**At_Symbol_Here**CHARTER.NET>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: Todd <p3wt3r**At_Symbol_Here**CHARTER.NET>
Subject: Re: FW: Experimental cook blows hands off trying molecular
Comments: To: "Debbie M. Decker"
In-Reply-To: <48A020E1942E024DB0F2A6B68A1312440773A457A5**At_Symbol_Here**>
Hi Debbie,

Herve' Theis wrote an excellent book titled "Molecular Gastronomy" and is a
 pioneer in the field. However the idea of applying scientific techniques (
Chemistry, Biology, Physics) to food preparation is not new.

Liquid Nitrogen is only a "Dangerous Chemical" in that it is a cryogenic li
quid (extreme low temperature) and will build pressure rapidly when contain
ed in an vessel and heated above its boiling point of -320 F. Nitrogen cann
ot "explode" as it is a neutral, nonreactive, inert material. For transport
, Liquid Nitrogen is kept in special Cryogenic Liquid Cylinders which have 
pressure relief valves in place to prevent over pressurizing the cylinder. 
 Liquid nitrogen is also kept in vacuum insulated "Dewars" which are not pr
essurized, but maintain the cryogenic liquid by preserving the extreme low 

There are plenty of cases where extreme cold can have the same effect as ex
treme heat, (every day examples include freezer burn, frostbite). And nitro
gen is often used as a preservative "blanket" to protect a material from ox
ygen. So I can see possibilities of where the individual who was injured mi
ght nave been going with this.

If the individual who was injured put the liquid nitrogen in a sealed conta
iner, it would build pressure, rapidly if heated, and eventually rupture, p
erhaps "explosively".  However, there is no possible way he could have used
 the nitrogen in a lighter, it will not burn. 

I agree that this story leaves out some dsetails and the ones it gives don'
t make much sense...

Todd Perkins
Safety Director
Airgas Mid AMerica
--- On Wed, 7/15/09, Debbie M. Decker  wrote:

> This tidbit is from our food safety officer. From this piece, it makes
> absolutely no sense whatsoever to me.  I did a bit of digging =E2=80=93 h
> a wiki entry on the concept:  
> But no more information about this incident than below. 
> Have any of you heard of this?  Do
> any of you might have some insight on how this incident
> might have occurred?  We
> have a large and active Food Science department and
> they=E2=80=99re always coming
> up with new ways to produce food.  We would like to be
> able to head them
> off from something dangerous before we have a similar
> incident. 
> Thanks for
> your speculation and input. 
> Debbie

> Experimental cook blows hands off
> trying molecular gastronomy
> 14.jul.09
> Sydney Morning Herald
> An experimental German cook accidentally blew off both his
> hands attempting to
> concoct a "molecular gastronomy" dish with liquid
> nitrogen, a
> newspaper report said on Monday.
> The 24-year-old man from Stahnsdorf near Berlin 
> somehow obtained some of the dangerous chemical and was
> poised to try out a new
> recipe from the school of molecular cooking, which aims to
> apply scientific
> processes to gastronomy.
> There was an "enormous explosion", according to
> the Berliner
> Morgenpost daily.
> The man lost one hand in the explosion and the other was so
> badly injured it
> had to be amputated.
> The man, who was staying at his girlfriend's
> mother's house, was rushed to
> hospital where his condition was described as
> life-threatening. He is on
> artifical respiration.
> He claimed he was trying to fill a gas lighter, but his
> girlfriend said he was
> trying to empty a canister of liquid
> nitrogen.

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