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Q & A: nitrogen liquid and gas

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Most recent answer: 10/31/2014
Q:
why is liquid nitrogen called liquid nitrogen if it's a gas also how does heat and cold pressure different material matter such as it did with the bottle of sprite full of liquid nitrogen that exploded precisely 15 seconds after the nitrogen was put into the bottle
- Davon White (age 13)
Kankakee, IL
A:

Nitrogen can be a gas or a liquid or a solid. At ordinary pressure, it's a gas at room temperature. If you get it cold enough, below 77K, it turns into a liquid. A bit colder, below 63K, it turns into a solid.

I can guess what might have happened with that bottle. The nitrogen started out liquid. As heat gradually flowed into the bottle from the warm air, it turned some of the nitrogen to gas. After enough had turned to gas, the gas pressure became high enough to explode the bottle. The explosion time is fairly predictable because the heat flow rate is fairly predictable.

Mike W.

posted without vetting until Lee returns from the Serengeti 


(published on 10/31/2014)

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