You are on page 1of 4

ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH AND RADIATION

SAFETY

Liquid Nitrogen: Ordering, Handling and


Transportation.
Ordering:
Liquid nitrogen should be ordered through the Universitys stockroom central
purchasing system utilizing our trusted and approved vendors assuring proper
delivery, quality, security and account management.

Handling:
Liquid nitrogen tanks, often referred to as cryogenic storage tanks, are cylindrical in
shape. They are designed to ASME specifications for the pressures and
temperatures involved.
On campus we have direct delivery to the laboratories of all liquid nitrogen tanks.
Only larger liquid nitrogen storage tanks are mounted with wheels and can be
moved when emptied by the end user. Intermediate sized liquid nitrogen storage
tanks require special carts and training that are not currently available on campus
and require vendor assistance.
Liquid nitrogen storage containers and cryogenic storage tanks must always be
stored and transported in the upright position.

PPE:
When handling liquid nitrogen, unvented or indirect venting chemical splash safety
googles are required. If pouring or filling a secondary container from a larger
cryogenic storage tank or Dewar a face-shield is required. Waterproof insulated
gloves are required for use and for transport. Long pants, closed shoes and a lab
coat are the only acceptable attire for dispensing, using and transporting liquid
nitrogen. When using larger amounts of liquid nitrogen (>25 L) an apron should
also be worn.

Storage:
Liquid nitrogen has a large expansion ratio of liquid to gas (1:696) and requires a
minimum of six air exchanges per hour for adequate ventilation.
OSHA has established a 19.5% oxygen concentration as the minimum for working
without supplied air.
Typical laboratories around campus accommodate this minimum requirement with
regards to the use and storage or liquid nitrogen. If there is an area that you are
not certain will accommodate the minimum requirements, contact Facilities Services
for a proper analysis of the ventilation system in that area. Some areas that do not

ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH AND RADIATION


SAFETY

accommodate proper ventilation and are at risk for oxygen displacement are
elevators, some storage closets/areas, and cold rooms.
Liquid nitrogen tanks should also be stored and used in secure locations away from
weather and temperature extremes.

Venting:
All liquid nitrogen cryogenic storage tanks are equipped with pressure relief devices
that regulate the internal pressure. Normally venting will occur while in storage.
The manufacturer should be called if excessive continuous venting occurs (as well
as the area evacuated). However, typical release is normal and can be managed in
a properly ventilated area. Slight frost can also naturally occur at the top of a liquid
nitrogen storage tank. Contact the manufacturer if excessive ice build-up occurs at
the head of the tank as this can result in a clogged release valve contributing to
dangerous mounting pressure making dispensing unsafe and often impossible.
All containers used for the storage and dispensing of liquid nitrogen on campus
must be able to vent whether pressurized or non-pressurized.
**DO NOT ATTEMPT TO PLUG, REMOVE OR TAMPER WITH ANY PRESSURE
RELIEF DEVICE.**

Transporting:
1. Liquid Nitrogen Cryogenic Storage Tanks:
Larger supply tanks should never be moved on campus unless empty and are
equipped with their own wheels. We have a direct delivery and pick-up system,
established through stockroom central purchasing, and work closely with the vendor
to accommodate the needs of laboratory personnel.
Contact the Central Stockroom if an active or full liquid nitrogen tank, already on
campus, needs to be relocated. Then, the vendor can be contacted to relocate the
larger liquid nitrogen tank(s) using proper carts that are not available on campus.
**NEVER ATTEMPT TO TIP, SLIDE OR ROLL CONTAINERS.**

2. Large Liquid Nitrogen Dewars:


Large Dewars (> 25L) are secondary storage containers of liquid nitrogen commonly
used in laboratories for research purposes.
They are often non-pressurized, vacuum-jacketed vessels with loose fitted caps or
plugs. This allows for excess pressure to vent while preventing air and moisture
from entering. Not all Dewars are rated for liquid nitrogen. Always follow
manufacturer guidelines for the use of any cryogenic vessel.

ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH AND RADIATION


SAFETY

Large mobile Dewars transported from area to area must consider the following
precautions:
1. A Dewar must be designed for the length and nature of the transport
required. Contact the manufacturer for specifications.
2. Never fill a Dewar more than 80% if its capacity. Be aware of the Dewars
initial temperature prior to filling. A warm Dewar (not currently containing
any liquid nitrogen) needs to be filled slowly to reduce temperature shock
effects and minimize splashing.
3. Lifting a Dewars that is not equipped with wheels (> 25 L), when full, is a two
person task whether placing the Dewar on a transportation cart or pouring.
4. A large Dewar, equipped with its own wheels, must have wheel diameters
greater than 25% of any elevator threshold and/or any other slots/crevasses
encountered during transport. Standard Dewar casters, whether welded to
its body or not, are not typically meant for transport over pavement, concrete
or large areas. A four wheel tipcart or more stable device with appropriate
wheels should be used.
5. Steel-toed boots are recommended as Dewars can tip and when full, weigh a
considerable amount.
6. Dewars should never be transported in an elevator with any other personnel,
including the handler unless a supplied air respirator is in use. Freight
elevators should be used when a building is equipped. Whether becoming
trapped for a prolonged period of time or the liquid nitrogen begins to boil off
at a rapid rate, enough oxygen can quickly become displaced resulting in
breathing problems and even death.

Elevator Transport Policy:


-

If a freight elevator is not available, a passenger elevator can be


utilized but should be made off limits to all users during the liquid
nitrogens transport.
Place the liquid nitrogen Dewar in the elevator and press the
destination floor. Before leaving the elevator post a hazard warning
sign on the cylinder to prevent individuals from entering the elevator
when the door opens prior to its destination.

EXAMPLE: CAUTION CRYOGENIC LIQUIDS, DO NOT ENTER


ELEVATOR
-

Another handler should be waiting at the designated floor for the


receipt and immediate removal of the Dewar.

3. Small Liquid Nitrogen Dewars:


The use of small (< 4L) handheld Dewars for transport of liquid nitrogen is
permitted throughout a building from room to room, stairwells and elevators.

ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH AND RADIATION


SAFETY

Make sure any and all small Dewars are manufactured for the use of liquid nitrogen
and have loose fitted lids or vent.
Liquid nitrogen must never be stored or transported in sealed containers. Thermos
flasks with tight fitting lids are not suitable even for short periods of time.