The Importance Of Cryogenic Equipment

By Grace Rivas

If you have no idea what the word "cryogenic" means, you are probably in the majority. It is not a term often found in daily conversation. It is seen often in research facilities, food processing plants and in medical labs. Here are some of the details that describe cryogenic equipment, what it means and why it is important today.

Two Greek words make up the compound term "cryogenics". The first part means very cold temperatures, or "Kryos". The second part of the word is "genes" which is also from the Greek language. It means "generated". This provides a word meaning described as a material that has the property of extreme coldness.

Cryogenic exclusively refers to gases having the special ability to turn to liquid under certain conditions. They are gases except when placed in an extremely cold environment and specific pressure conditions. They are kept that way for several reasons.

Several known gases are considered to fall into the cryogenics category. These include nitrogen, helium, hydrogen and liquid oxygen. The boiling point of these elements is set at minus 51C or 60F. Of these gases, nitrogen is the most common because it is plentiful and easy to obtain. To work with the products, a special environment is required.

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.

The device that is used to hold and store liquid gases in order to safely handle them must be constructed to protect against the cold and to maintain constant pressure during the processes. One of the first pieces of equipment to be utilized was the Dewar Flask. The inventor was James Dewar who was the first scientist to liquefy hydrogen. The inside is glass with a double wall to protect the handler from the extreme cold.

When the liquid gas must be moved or transferred, special pumping devices are required. A pump that operates successfully under high pressure and extreme cold. In order to store the gases in liquid form, pressure vessels are required. These containers must maintain the low temperatures and the high pressures in storage conditions. To keep the air pure, the equipment for purification must operate under unusual conditions. Cleaning using cold traps is another device that is needed for cleaning. Valves are another device that must be specially designed to manage the extremes of a gas in a liquid state.

Researchers working with gases in a liquid state need the right cryogenic equipment in order handle the substances safely. Devices that function under extreme conditions are needed in order to assure accuracy in the research that is being done. Choosing high quality equipment is a requirement for optimum results.

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