Home Podcasts THMG037 – Cryogenics, Part I

THMG037 – Cryogenics, Part I

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In this two-part series on cryogenics, Mike and Bob discuss the effects of this hazard on field operators.

Complete Show Notes

3:15 Cryogenics Overview

  • Technical definition – cryogenic material is any substance (solid or liquid) at a temperature of -130 degrees Fahrenheit
  • This stuff is extremely cold and will damage your skin if you’re exposed to you – cold emergencies are emergencies whether they’re labeled cryogenic or not
  • Might involve special procedures and equipment, so always pay attention and stay on top of things

5:00 Hazards of Cryogenic Materials

  • When something hits cryogenic temperatures (sub -130 degrees Fahrenheit), it’s easy to get thermal burns
  • A thermal burn is just a burn from an extreme temperature – you can experience the same mechanical damage from cold as you can from heat
  • When tissue is cold enough to freeze, the water inside of your cells turns to ice and expands – this causes the cell to burst and die, which leads to protein damage
  • Only a few seconds of exposure can cause tissue death, so it’s crucial to be aware
  • We also need to be careful with things that the cold liquid touches – heat is pulled right out of any object(s) it touches to make it cold enough to do damage
  • The moisture on the surface of your hand freezes, which bonds the object to your skin – this prolongs the time that heat can transfer out of your hand through conduction and into the object

9:15 Thermodynamics and Cryogenics

  • Thermodynamics is an important part of physics – essentially, cold doesn’t “exist”
  • Molecules vibrate – when a molecule vibrates, we preserve this vibration as heat
  • The hotter an object is, the more energy it has and the more it vibrates
  • Since energy flows from high to low, heat (not cold) is literally transferred from one object to another
  • Chemicals like nitrogen and carbon dioxide have a greater potential to become a simple asphyxiate – increase of around 800 times
  • When these chemicals leak and are exposed, they create an oxygen enriched environment – these have the potential to be highly flammable
  • Flammable and poisonous cryogenics are especially dangerous in terms of flammability

18:20 Where Do We Find Cryogenics?

  • Cryogenics are pretty much everywhere – they’re economical and convenient, which means they’re in almost every shopping center and convenience store across the country
  • If you’re somewhere that serves large quantities of beverages, you can bet that the bubbles in their soda and beer come from a cryogenic CO2 tank
  • Many of these tanks are in areas that aren’t well-ventilated or designed for dealing with this kind of hazard, which has led to the deaths of employees and patrons

19:25 Hazmat Drill Nugget from Hazsim Training Systems

  • Offensive/defensive quiz – helps you decide whether you need to complete an offensive operation or defensive operation when you’re on scene

21:30 Cryogenic Storage Tanks

  • Most of these storage tanks are in areas designed to hold hazards, but you shouldn’t take anything for granted
  • If there’s an industry in your area that uses cryogenics, go and look around – find out what they’re holding and how much
  • Take a look at their tanks and ask how they’re refilled
  • You should also determine whether they’re stationary – if a tank is replaced and swapped out it means people are frequently changing hoses, turning systems on and off, moving tanks, etc.
  • All of this human interaction can lead to an accident – these mistakes are what keep us in business

Have a question? Send an email to feedback@thehazmatguys.com or leave a message on our Haz Mat Guys comment hotline: 843-628-1484

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