I believe the key is in the words from the newspaper article: “Criminal investigators secured the remains of a nitrogen flask…”. A tightly closed container of liquid nitrogen can build up explosive pressure s of nitrogen gas until the container gives way. The liquid is at its boil ing point, which is at -196C or -321F. So even in a well isolated contain er the liquid is continuously converting to gas, which occupies about 800 time s more volume than the liquid. We use a great deal of liquid nitrogen; the large containers have pressure relief valves and the small hand carry containers have loose fitting caps to vent. If that cook had the liqu id nitrogen in a tight metal container, it is no mystery why there was a violent explosion.
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Opinions expressed are my own.
Excuse the cross-postings:
This tidbit is from our food safety officer. From this pi ece, it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to me. I did a bit of digging – here’s a wiki entry on the concept: http://en.wikipe dia.org/wiki/Molecular_gastronomy But no more information about this incident than below. p>
Have any of you heard of this? Do any of you might have s ome insight on how this incident might have occurred? We have a large and active Food Science department and they’re always coming up with new ways to produce food. We would like to be able to head them off from somet hing dangerous before we have a similar incident.
Thanks for your speculation and input.
M. Decker, Campus Chemical Safety Officer
Environmental Health and Safety
University of California, Davis
1 Shields Ave.
Davis, CA 95616
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From: Susan Cumming
Sent: Tuesday, July 14, 2009 5:05 PM
To: Debbie M. Decker
Subject: Experimental cook blows hands off trying molecular gastrono my
GERMANY: Experimental cook blows hands off trying molecular
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 th e dangerous chemical and was poised to try out a new recipe from the school o f molecular cooking, which aims to apply scientific processes to gastronomy.< br> 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 i t 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.< /i>
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