The benefits and hazards of liquid oxygen

Source:  Down to Earth

About Liquid oxygen:

Liquid oxygen has a pale blue colour and is a cryogenic liquid. Cryogenic liquids are liquefied gases that have a normal boiling point below -238 degrees Fahrenheit (-150 degrees Celsius).

Benefits of Liquid Oxygen:

  • In commerce, liquid oxygen is classified as an industrial gas and is widely used for industrial and medical purposes.
  • Liquid oxygen is used as an oxidant for liquid fuels in the propellant systems of missiles and rockets.
  • Oxygen is widely applied in the metal industries in conjunction with acetylene and other fuel gases for metal cutting, welding, hardening, cleaning and melting.
  • Liquid oxygen therapy is the medical process of providing additional oxygen to a patient who cannot get enough oxygen on their own. Conditions such as asthma, lung disease and pneumonia can be treated by this method.

Hazards of Liquid Oxygen:

  • Contact with liquid oxygen can cause severe skin and eye irritation and burns as well as frostbite.
  • Similarly, Inhalation of 80 per cent oxygen at one atmospheric pressure for more than 12 hours can cause irritation of the respiratory tract, nausea, dizziness, vision loss, coughing, chest pain etc.
  • A characteristic neurological syndrome can be observed when pure oxygen is inhaled at pressures greater than two or three atmospheres.
  • Characteristic epilepsy-like convulsions, which may be preceded by visual disturbances such as loss of peripheral vision, also occur. Continued exposure can cause severe convulsions, leading to death.
  • Some common materials like asphalt, kerosene, cloth, wood, paint, tar and dirt containing oil or grease can react violently with liquid oxygen at certain pressures and temperatures.

But these effects are reversible after reduction of oxygen pressure.

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