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The Dangers of Molecular Gastronomy

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
I found this story today that I thought foodies would find interesting. Apparently a man injured himself severely while fiddling with molecular gastronomy. I don't enjoy the pain of others, but I think a good lesson is taught here....if you aren't trained properly, DON'T MESS WITH LIQUID NITROGEN!!!!

German blows hands off trying 'molecular gastronomy' | World Breaking News | News.com.au
post #2 of 14

Thanks Dear

I have also heard about bad effects of nitrogen cooking.So be care full while gastronomy.
post #3 of 14
Honestly, is liquid nitrogen any more dangerous than a canister of propane, or a pot of really hot oil? People who act like morons with potentially dangerous equipment will always get themselves hurt no matter what and even beyond that there will always be accidents.

However, I am interested in what exactly happened that caused the incident. It would be an interesting learning experience nonetheless. Nitrogen isn't a particularly reactive element (unlike say, Hydrogen or Oxygen) so it must've been temperature and pressure related.
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post #4 of 14
>> temperature and pressure related.

indeed. when any cryogenic compound has the opportunity to "warm up" it must absorb heat from "somewhere"

pouring liquid nitrogen / oxygen / <cryo liquid any> into water, for example, the cryogen absorbs so much heat from the water so fast that the nitrogen instantly boils - rather vigorously. given the right proportions it can result in an explosion - the nitrogen turns to gas and expands violently.
post #5 of 14
hmmm, hand dipped in boiling water or dipped in liquid nitrogen? I'll take boiling water. I've gotten minor frostbite off a bad propane seal, screw liquid nitrogen. not interested. Be better off cooking a hot dog in a volcano.
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post #6 of 14

That's a shame...

A shame, because LN2 can be extremely useful... more so than lava. I'd rather be splashed with a small amount of LN2 than a small amount of smoking hot oil.

Apparently the cause of the accident was that the man put the LN2 into a sealed container, which then "exploded" due to the liquid boiling into a gas that was many hundreds of times the volume. That was pretty dumb, I must say.
"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
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post #7 of 14
>>put the LN2 into a sealed container, which then "exploded" due

oops - that's a bomb!

I was wondering if he tried to use something like the whipped cream gadget - didn't see any additional new info on it.
post #8 of 14
Here's a German article that talks about the incident. Unfortunately I myself do not read German so I am of no help... but I did hear various interpretations of the article from people who read German. Hopefully somebody here can shine some light on it too.

Stickstoff-Explosion - Koch verliert eine Hand bei Kchen-Experiment - Brandenburg - Berliner Morgenpost
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post #9 of 14
vielen Dank fuer das Link!

that report is "dated" Tuesday, 10:3 PM (eastern time)

the 24 yr old went to his girlfriend's house (who is 16 if I read right...) at 11:20 PM (local) to work on the 'dish' - had a container of liquid nitrogen - went into the bathroom and kaboom.

right hand gone, left hand despite earlier reports of amputation required was reattached.

he's on a ventilator in critical condition, hence not a lot more info.

no info on where or how he came to possess the liq nitrogen; not sold the 'the public' - no info on whether it was in a proper container or not.
post #10 of 14
I'm too lazy to slog through the German, which is more than slightly rusty. Is there any indication what he DID with the liquid nitrogen?
post #11 of 14
I've used liquid nitrogen extensively over the last 10 years. Never heard of such a thing. I've spilled it on my skin, down the sink with running water, you name it. Nitrogen is not a reactive substance. The most it can do is burn your skin when spilled.

I'm willing to bet it was the vacuum dewer that exploded. I mentioned in another thread not even a week ago that larger vacuum dewers are extremely dangerous and can implode, essentially creating a glass bomb.

On the other hand, if the nitrogen was condensed n the presence of oxygen, then bad things can and do happen. Liquid oxygen is VERY dangerous and can explode upon warming to room temp....

for anyone interested, the reason I know this stuff is because i have a masters degree in chemistry and worked for almost a decade as a drug discovery (organic) chemist at a major global pharmaceutical company.
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post #12 of 14
not sure it has to be "reactive" to be a problem. without going the the tables, gaseous volume at STP is what - 700 times greater than liquid volume? when you're dealing with a tablespoon of the stuff - that's not a big issue. a litre of the stuff kicking over near instantaneously from liquid to gas can spoil the effect.

the guy is/was on a ventilator in critical condition - apparently not able to talk because there is no further report on the news site (as of a few minutes ago) about where it got it, what kind of container it was in or what he was doing in the bathroom when it exploded.

it does mention he has a severe laceration of the upper thigh in the genital region - from which they imply the container "was in front of him" when it exploded - it is not necessary to have a chemical reaction to have an explosion - only the rapid release of a lot of stored energy.
post #13 of 14
With my scientific background I think Dillbert is reading into this correctly. Liquid N2 is quite inert as a chemical so a chemical (reaction) explosion would not be the cause of this accident.
If this person was inexperience with handling Liquid N2, I suspect he poured the stuff in an inappropriate container i.e glass masson jar or aluminium metal container and sealed it shut. If the container cannot contain the pressure of liquid N2 at room temp then the build up will cause a catastrophic (pressure) explosion .

Luc H.
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post #14 of 14

To clear things up about nitrogen. I have used it many times, I own a 10 and 30 liter dewar. Nitrogen Bolis at -320f and its melting point is -346f. Its an inert gas that is not reactive, non flammable, and it will suffocate you. 1 liter of nitrogen can displace 696 cubic feet I believe, someone correct me if Im wrong. LN2 needs to be held in a vented container, or it will build up pressure and go boom. The best way to handle nitrogen is naked and hairless.... But I dont do that, I am a proffesional and proffesionals dont cook naked. I use a dewar to hold as stated, and poach things in a double wall vacuum vontainer similar to an ice holding container, mine is lab grade but a metal one from walmart or anywhere can be used. To acquire nitrogen you just have to own a dewar, and go to a welding supply store or anywhere they sell it. Airgas is a good place to start, or praxair. Just make sure it is FOOD GRADE without contaminants. WITHOUT CONTAMINANTS, and you would be golden. I use it to shatter things like tuna, steak, and salmon to create eccentric looking tartares. You can also use it to freeze anything and slap it in your vita or robo and send it for a ride to powder or use it to paste things with out a paco but a paco works best. Take care and have fun! If anything here is inaccurate please correct me, we are all here to learn. Take care and have fun!

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