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Safety Considerations Regarding the Use of Propane and Other Liquefied Gases as Coolants for Rapid Freezing Purposes

  • Keith P. Ryan (a1) and Malcolm I. Liddicoat (a1)

Extract

Liquid propane and similar coolants are used in the rapid freezing of biological specimens. These coolants form explosive gas mixtures with air with a 14,000-fold increase in volume over that of the liquid. The liquefied gases have high vapour pressures and, unless they are maintained below their flashpoint, the vapour above them will reach ignitable concentrations. The flashpoint of liquid propane is -104°C. Ethane has a higher vapour pressure, and vapour mixed with air above liquid ethane can be ignited at a coolant temperature of -130°C. The danger is minimized if the coolant is maintained near its freezing point and under a nitrogen atmosphere, in a fume cupboard. Liquid nitrogen evaporates to a 690-fold increase in volume at room temperature. It is important to ventilate the working area, especially when cryo-sectioning in a small room, otherwise there is a possibility of asphyxiation.

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Copyright

References

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Safety Considerations Regarding the Use of Propane and Other Liquefied Gases as Coolants for Rapid Freezing Purposes

  • Keith P. Ryan (a1) and Malcolm I. Liddicoat (a1)

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