Liquid Nitrogen Bomb

08 April 2009


If you cool down air in liquid nitrogen it will condense to form a liquid and shrink by a factor of about 600.


In this video you can see the air in the balloon shrinking as it cools down, and you should be able to just see the liquid air that it condenses into.

This is because as you cool down the gas you are sucking energy out of its molecules, until eventually they don't have enough energy to overcome the weak attraction between one another and they stick together in the form of a liquid.

This liquid takes up only about a 600th of the original volume of the gas you started with. Nitrogen is the largest component of air, so if you heat liquid nitrogen up above its boiling point it will expand again by a factor of about 600.

So if you try sealing the liquid nitrogen in a container the pressure will build up and up until something fails. If the container is strong this failure will happen at a very high pressure and it will be very violent.

A lemonade bottle is a remarkably well designed device which will not fail until the pressure reaches at least 10 atmospheres so the failure is very very violent.

This is dangerous, so do not do this at home!

This film has been speeded up by about a factor of 10 before the explosion, but sloweddown by a factor of 10 during the explosion.

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