How Long Does Liquid Nitrogen Last in a Tank? Explained

Have you ever wondered how long does liquid nitrogen last in a tank? Whether you are a scientist, medical professional, chef, or someone who enjoys experimenting with liquid nitrogen, this is a question worth exploring. A tank filled with liquid nitrogen has the potential to unlock a world of possibilities, but only if you know how long you can expect it to last.

Liquid nitrogen is a colorless, odorless, non-toxic, and extremely cold substance (-320°F/-196°C). It is used for a range of applications, such as cryogenic freezing of food, storing biological samples, and cooling scientific instruments. However, the longevity of liquid nitrogen’s cryogenic properties, as well as the safety risks associated with its use, depend on how it is stored and handled. Therefore, it is essential to have a basic knowledge of the factors that influence how long does liquid nitrogen last in a tank. Let’s dive into the intricacies of liquid nitrogen storage and find out what determines its shelf life.

Factors that affect the evaporation rate of liquid nitrogen in a tank

As an expert in liquid nitrogen, it is important to understand the factors that contribute to its evaporation rate within a tank. The rate at which liquid nitrogen evaporates depends on a range of variables, and each of these factors needs to be taken into consideration to accurately determine the lifespan of the product within a storage tank.

  • Temperature: The temperature of the liquid nitrogen plays a major role in determining its evaporation rate. The lower the temperature, the slower the evaporation rate. However, as the temperature increases, the rate of evaporation also increases.
  • Atmospheric pressure: The atmospheric pressure also affects the evaporation rate of liquid nitrogen. As the pressure decreases, the rate of evaporation increases. This is because the pressure differential between the inside and outside of the tank increases, leading to a more rapid evaporation rate.
  • Tank design: The design of the storage tank can also impact the evaporation rate of liquid nitrogen. A poorly-insulated tank can lead to a higher evaporation rate due to heat transfer from the surroundings, while a well-insulated tank will reduce the rate of evaporation over time.

It is also important to consider the initial fill level of the storage tank, as well as the frequency and volume of liquid nitrogen added to the tank. Each of these factors can contribute to the overall evaporation rate of the liquid nitrogen, and must be taken into account when calculating the lifespan of the product within the tank.

To better understand how each of these factors can impact the rate of evaporation, consider the following table:

Variable Impact on Evaporation Rate
Temperature Inversely proportional – as temperature decreases, evaporation rate slows
Atmospheric pressure Directly proportional – as pressure decreases, evaporation rate increases
Tank design Variation in impact depending on level of insulation

By taking into account the variables that have the greatest impact on the evaporation rate of the liquid nitrogen, it is possible to accurately determine the lifespan of the product within a storage tank. This data is valuable to a range of industries, from healthcare to food preservation, where the use of liquid nitrogen as a coolant or freezing agent is prevalent.

Common uses of liquid nitrogen in various industries

Liquid nitrogen is an incredibly versatile substance with a variety of applications across many industries. Here are some of the most common uses:

  • Food and beverage industry: Liquid nitrogen is used to freeze and preserve food products, from ice cream to fruits and vegetables. In the beverage industry, it’s used to create nitrogen-infused beers and to wine pre-cooling.
  • Medical industry: Liquid nitrogen is used in cryosurgery to remove skin lesions and in cryotherapy to alleviate muscle and joint pain. It’s also used to store biological samples and in cryogenic preservation of tissues, cells, and organs.
  • Manufacturing industry: Liquid nitrogen is used in welding, cutting, and brazing metal products. It can be used to clean and cool machinery, and to shrink-fit parts together.
  • Chemical industry: Liquid nitrogen is used in chemical processing and to cool and freeze chemicals and reactants. It’s also used to create inert atmospheres during chemical reactions.

The benefits of using liquid nitrogen

The benefits of incorporating liquid nitrogen into various industrial processes are numerous. Here are just a few:

  • Energy efficient: Liquid nitrogen can be used to cool and preserve products much more efficiently than other methods, reducing energy usage and costs.
  • Non-toxic: Liquid nitrogen is non-toxic, making it safe to use in food and medical applications.
  • Precision-focused: Liquid nitrogen is incredibly precise, allowing for exact temperature control during the cooling and preservation of products, and during chemical reactions.

The longevity of liquid nitrogen

One of the most common questions about liquid nitrogen is how long it lasts in a tank. A properly insulated tank can keep liquid nitrogen for several weeks. However, the time frame can vary greatly depending on factors such as the insulation quality of the tank, how often the tank is opened, and the ambient temperature around the tank. It’s important to follow the manufacturer’s recommendation and to monitor the tank and the liquid nitrogen inside it regularly.

Ambient Temperature Time Until Loss of 20% Capacity
-196°C (-320°F) 32.5 days
-190°C (-310°F) 21.6 days
-180°C (-292°F) 12.9 days

It’s important to note that liquid nitrogen can be dangerous if not handled correctly. It can cause skin and eye irritation and can displace oxygen in enclosed spaces, leading to asphyxiation. Proper protective gear and safety protocols should always be used when working with liquid nitrogen.

Safety measures when handling liquid nitrogen

As we discussed in our previous article, liquid nitrogen is an extremely cold substance that can cause severe injuries if not handled with care. In addition to proper storage and transportation, here are some crucial safety measures to consider when handling liquid nitrogen.

  • Always wear personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, face shield, and safety glasses when handling liquid nitrogen. PPE should be made of non-permeable materials that can withstand the extreme cold temperature.
  • Never store or transfer liquid nitrogen in airtight containers, as the rapid expansion of nitrogen gas can cause the container to explode. Always use vented containers with loose-fitting lids to allow the gas to escape.
  • Never pour liquid nitrogen onto skin or clothing, as it can cause serious burns and frostbite. In case of accidental contact, immediately flush the affected area with warm water for at least 15 minutes and seek medical attention.
  • Ensure proper ventilation in the working area to prevent nitrogen gas buildup, which can displace oxygen and cause asphyxiation. Never work in confined spaces that are not designed for nitrogen use.
  • Do not smoke, eat, or drink while handling liquid nitrogen, as ingestion of even a small amount of nitrogen gas can cause serious health problems.

Moreover, liquid nitrogen poses a significant hazard in case of spills or leaks. It can quickly evaporate into a gas, which can displace oxygen and create an oxygen-deficient environment. To minimize the risk of spillage, it’s essential to ensure that containers are properly secured and handled with care.

Here’s a table summarizing the safety measures when handling liquid nitrogen:

Safety Measure Why It Matters
Wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Protects against cold burns and frostbite
Use Vented Containers Prevents container explosion from nitrogen gas buildup
Avoid Skin Contact Prevents severe burns and frostbite
Maintain Proper Ventilation Prevents oxygen displacement and asphyxiation
Avoid Smoking, Eating, or Drinking Prevents ingestion of nitrogen gas

By following these safety measures, you can minimize the risk of accidents and ensure the safe handling and use of liquid nitrogen.

Types of tanks used for storing liquid nitrogen

When it comes to storing liquid nitrogen, it’s important to choose the right type of tank for your needs. There are several types of tanks available, each with their own unique features and benefits.

  • Dewar Flasks: These tanks have a double-walled vacuum-insulated design, making them ideal for short term storage and transport of liquid nitrogen. They are available in various sizes, from small handheld units to larger tanks that can hold thousands of liters of liquid nitrogen.
  • Cryogenic Storage Tanks: These tanks are designed for long-term storage and can hold much larger volumes of liquid nitrogen than Dewar flasks. They are typically used in industrial settings, research labs, and medical facilities. Cryogenic storage tanks are also available in different sizes and can be customized to meet specific needs.
  • Transportable tanks: These tanks are designed for transporting liquid nitrogen from one location to another. They are ideal for use in industries like healthcare, veterinary medicine, and scientific research where the liquid nitrogen needs to be brought to the site of use.

When selecting a tank, it’s essential to consider the safety features that the tank possesses, including pressure relief valves, vacuum insulation, and emergency shutoff valves. Additionally, make sure the tank is constructed from materials compatible with liquid nitrogen, such as stainless steel or aluminum.

Below is a table that summarizes the differences between Dewar flasks and cryogenic storage tanks:

Tank Type Capacity Usage Insulation
Dewar Flasks Up to a few liters Short-term storage and transport Double-walled vacuum insulation
Cryogenic Storage Tanks Several thousand liters Long-term storage Vacuum-insulated

Whether you need a tank for short-term storage, long-term storage, or transportation, the right type of tank can make all the difference in the safety and efficiency of handling liquid nitrogen.

Calculating the amount of liquid nitrogen needed for a specific application

Knowing how much liquid nitrogen you need for a specific application is critical to avoiding wastage and ensuring that you have enough to complete the task at hand. The following are factors that affect the amount of liquid nitrogen you should calculate:

  • The volume of the container – A larger volume requires more liquid nitrogen to maintain the desired temperature.
  • The desired temperature – The lower the desired temperature, the more liquid nitrogen you will need to use.
  • The duration of use – The longer you plan to use the liquid nitrogen, the more you will need to have on hand.

Calculating the amount of liquid nitrogen needed can be done using a simple formula:

Amount of Liquid Nitrogen = (Container Volume) x (Density of Liquid Nitrogen) x (Temperature Difference) / (Latent Heat of Vaporization)


  • Container Volume: This is the volume of the container that will be cooled using liquid nitrogen.
  • Density of Liquid Nitrogen: The density of liquid nitrogen at standard conditions is 808 kg/m³.
  • Temperature Difference: The temperature difference between the initial temperature of the container and the target temperature you wish to cool it to.
  • Latent Heat of Vaporization: This is the heat required to evaporate a unit of liquid nitrogen at its boiling point. At standard pressure, this is 199.05 kJ/kg.

Once you have determined the amount of liquid nitrogen you need, it is essential to ensure that you store it correctly to prevent evaporative losses, exposure to oxygen, and contamination.

Container Type Maximum Capacity (Liters)
Dewars 5 to 50
Pressurized tanks 90 to 450
Cryogenic liquid cylinders 400 to 5000

Being able to estimate the amount of liquid nitrogen needed for a specific application is a crucial skill for any user, and the formula mentioned above will make this an easily achievable feat for anyone.

How to Properly Fill and Refill a Liquid Nitrogen Tank

Handling liquid nitrogen requires proper safety precautions to prevent accidents and mishaps. Below are some guidelines on how to fill and refill a liquid nitrogen tank safely:

  • Always wear protective clothing that includes goggles and gloves.
  • Place the liquid nitrogen tank on an even surface, and ensure it is stable and secure.
  • Connect the filling hose to the tank’s pressure relief valve.
  • Slowly open the valve to allow the nitrogen to fill the tank. Keep an eye on the tank pressure gauge and do not exceed the maximum pressure limit.
  • As the tank fills up, the tank will become extremely cold, and frost may start to form on the exterior surface. Handle with care to prevent skin contact to avoid freeze burns.
  • Stop filling the tank when it reaches about 80% capacity. The remaining space will allow for expansion when the tank is in use.

Refilling a liquid nitrogen tank is a routine process and requires the tank to be emptied first before refilling. Here are some steps to follow when refilling a liquid nitrogen tank:

  • Before refilling, ensure the tank is appropriately cleaned and dry, removing any potential debris or contaminants.
  • Attach the nitrogen line to the tank valve and slowly increase the gas pressure. This helps to force liquid nitrogen out of the hose.
  • Slowly vent the remaining liquid nitrogen from the tank.
  • Once emptied, use the above steps to refill the tank with fresh liquid nitrogen.

Lastly, remember to check the tank dipstick to monitor and maintain the nitrogen’s liquid level. Properly filling and refilling the tank will ensure its longevity and prevent any hazardous accidents or leaks.


Proper handling and precautions must be taken when filling, and refilling liquid nitrogen tanks. Follow the guidelines outlined above to ensure safety and prolong the lifespan of the liquid nitrogen tank. Remember always to prioritize safety first!

Reference Table

Pressure Limit Temperature Maximum Capacity
22 psi -328°F 50 liters
25 psi -320°F 60 liters
30 psi -310°F 75 liters
32 psi -308°F 100 liters

The above table contains the recommended pressure limit, temperature range, and maximum capacity for different-sized liquid nitrogen tanks. Always consult the tank manufacturer’s manual for specific recommendations on handling liquid nitrogen tanks.

Transportation and shipping of liquid nitrogen

Transporting and shipping liquid nitrogen can be a tricky process as it requires specialized equipment and handling procedures. As liquid nitrogen is extremely cold and can cause serious injury if mishandled, there are specific regulations in place for packaging, labeling, and transporting it safely.

  • The transportation of liquid nitrogen should only be done by authorized personnel who have received proper training and certification in handling and transporting hazardous materials.
  • Specialized containers should be used to transport liquid nitrogen, such as Dewar flasks or cryogenic tanks that are designed to maintain the low temperature required. These containers are vacuum-insulated and have a pressure relief valve to prevent a buildup of pressure.
  • During transportation, liquid nitrogen should be stored in an upright position and secured to prevent any tipping or spilling. It is also important to ensure that the container is not exposed to direct sunlight or heat as this can cause rapid evaporation and potential damage.

For shipping liquid nitrogen, it is necessary to comply with the regulations set forth by government agencies such as the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA). This involves proper labeling of the container, ensuring it is properly packaged and marked with the appropriate hazard class, and completing any necessary shipping documentation.

When shipping internationally, it is also important to comply with any regulations set forth by the destination country. This may include obtaining permits or clearance from customs, and complying with their specific labeling and packaging requirements.

Transportation Method Recommended Container Type
Ground transportation Dewar flasks or cryogenic tanks
Air transportation Dry shippers or laboratory-grade thermos flasks

Overall, proper handling and transportation of liquid nitrogen is crucial in ensuring its safe delivery while minimizing the risk of injury or damage.

Freezing and preservation of biological samples using liquid nitrogen

Liquid nitrogen is widely used in various fields, including medicine, research labs, and industry, due to its ability to preserve biological samples effectively.

One of the primary applications of liquid nitrogen is its use in freezing and preserving biological samples. Biological samples, such as sperm, eggs, embryos, and other cells, are stored in liquid nitrogen tanks, where they can be preserved indefinitely.

  • By using liquid nitrogen, biological samples can be stored at temperatures as low as -196°C (-320°F), which inhibits all biochemical reactions, effectively preserving the sample.
  • Liquid nitrogen tanks are designed with vacuum insulation, which helps to prevent the build-up of heat that could cause evaporation.
  • The samples are sealed in specially designed containers that prevent contamination and maintain their efficacy.

When liquid nitrogen is used to preserve biological samples, it is essential to ensure the samples are kept at a consistent temperature during transportation or transfer. Any interruption in the cooling process can have disastrous effects on the samples, leading to irreparable damage, and potentially rendering the samples unusable.

Therefore, it is crucial to have a reliable back-up system in place, including a secondary and tertiary layer of protection to ensure the integrity of samples stored in these tanks.

The longevity of liquid nitrogen in a tank

The longevity of liquid nitrogen in a tank depends on several factors, including the size of the container, the environmental conditions surrounding it, and the frequency with which the container is opened or used.

On average, a full liquid nitrogen tank, which holds about 230 liters, can last from 2-8 weeks, depending on the level of usage. However, smaller tanks, which hold about 20-30 liters, can only last a few days.

Factors Longevity of liquid nitrogen in tank
Size of the container From 2-8 weeks, depending on usage
Environmental conditions (temperature, humidity, airflow) Can affect the longevity of liquid nitrogen in the tank
Frequency of opening or use Can reduce the longevity of liquid nitrogen in the tank

It is essential to monitor the levels of liquid nitrogen in the tank regularly and ensure that it is refilled before it runs out. Failure to do so can result in the loss of biological samples, which can be costly and challenging to replace.

Efficient management of liquid nitrogen tanks is vital for various applications in the fields of medicine, research, and industry. By adhering to strict protocols and guidelines, users can ensure that liquid nitrogen remains an invaluable tool for many centuries to come.

Comparing liquid nitrogen to other cryogenic fluids

When it comes to cryogenic fluids, liquid nitrogen is one of the most common options used in various industries. However, it’s not the only one available, and for certain applications, other options may prove to be more effective. Here’s a comparison of liquid nitrogen with other cryogenic fluids:

  • Liquid Helium: Liquid helium is the coldest of the cryogenic fluids, with a boiling point of -452.1°F. However, it’s also the most expensive and isn’t typically used in large quantities.
  • Liquid Oxygen: With a boiling point of -297.3°F, liquid oxygen is slightly warmer than liquid nitrogen. However, it’s highly reactive and can be dangerous if not handled properly.
  • Liquid Argon: Liquid argon has a boiling point of -302.6°F, making it slightly colder than liquid oxygen. It’s commonly used in welding and other industrial applications.
  • Liquid Carbon Dioxide: Liquid carbon dioxide has a boiling point of -109.3°F, making it a bit warmer than liquid nitrogen. It’s commonly used in food processing and other applications where low-temperature cooling is required.

Overall, liquid nitrogen is a popular choice due to its relatively low cost and effectiveness in a variety of applications. However, other cryogenic fluids may be more appropriate depending on the specific use case.

It’s important to note that no matter what cryogenic fluid is being used, proper handling and storage are critical. All of these fluids have the potential to cause serious injury or death if not handled with care.

The duration of liquid nitrogen in a tank

The length of time that liquid nitrogen lasts in a tank depends on several factors, including the quality of the tank, the size of the tank, and the usage rate. Standard liquid nitrogen storage tanks are typically vacuum-sealed and can hold between 35 and 500 liters of liquid. The following table shows the approximate storage time of liquid nitrogen in a vacuum-sealed tank:

Tank Size (Liters) Storage Time (Days)
35 80
50 100
180 240
500 365

It’s worth noting that these estimates are based on ideal conditions and that the actual storage time may vary depending on factors such as ambient temperature, usage rate, and quality of the vacuum seal. Proper storage and handling of the tank are critical to ensure maximum storage time and prevent accidents.

Proper Disposal of Liquid Nitrogen and Empty Tanks

As with any hazardous material, it is important to properly dispose of liquid nitrogen and empty tanks. Here are ten things to consider when disposing of liquid nitrogen:

  • Do not pour liquid nitrogen down the drain or sewer. It can cause damage to the plumbing and potentially harm the water supply.
  • Seek advice from your local hazardous waste disposal facility on the appropriate way to dispose of liquid nitrogen.
  • Do not attempt to handle or dispose of liquid nitrogen unless you are properly trained and equipped to do so.
  • Make sure the tank is completely empty before disposing of it. You can do this by allowing the tank to sit out at room temperature for a few hours.
  • Keep the tank and liquid nitrogen away from open flames and other heat sources.
  • Do not place liquid nitrogen or empty tanks in the regular trash. They should be disposed of separately and properly.
  • If the tank is damaged or has a leak, it should be taken to a hazardous waste disposal facility immediately.
  • Label the tank and any containers holding liquid nitrogen as hazardous waste so that it is properly handled during disposal.
  • Do not attempt to reuse a tank that previously held liquid nitrogen. It can be dangerous and potentially cause serious injury or harm.
  • If in doubt, always seek advice from a professional before attempting to dispose of liquid nitrogen.

Empty tanks can also pose a hazard if not properly disposed of. Here are some things to consider:

Empty tanks that previously contained liquid nitrogen should be treated as hazardous waste and disposed of accordingly. If the tank is not labeled as hazardous waste, it may be mistaken for an empty tank and refilled. This can be extremely dangerous and potentially fatal. It is important to properly dispose of the tank to prevent accidents.

Types of Tanks Proper Disposal Method
Cryogenic Liquid Storage Tanks Should be recycled or disposed of through a hazardous waste disposal facility.
Cryogenic Freezers and Refrigerators Should be disposed of according to the manufacturer’s instructions and should not be placed in the regular trash.
Other Liquid Nitrogen Containers Should be properly disposed of or recycled. Do not place in the regular trash.

Proper disposal of liquid nitrogen and empty tanks is extremely important to ensure the safety of individuals and the environment. Always consult a professional if you are unsure of the proper disposal methods or have any questions regarding liquid nitrogen and its associated risks.

FAQs: How Long Does Liquid Nitrogen Last in a Tank?

1. How long does liquid nitrogen last in an open container?

Liquid nitrogen will boil off completely in a matter of minutes if left in an open container.

2. How long does liquid nitrogen last in a vacuum-sealed container?

In a vacuum-sealed container, liquid nitrogen can last for several days or even weeks depending on the quality of the container and how well it’s sealed.

3. How long does liquid nitrogen last in a standard Dewar flask?

A standard Dewar flask can keep liquid nitrogen from boiling off for around 30-40 hours, but this can vary based on the size of the flask and how much nitrogen is inside.

4. Can you store liquid nitrogen indefinitely if it’s kept at a very low temperature?

While liquid nitrogen can be stored at very low temperatures (as low as -346°F) for long periods of time, it will eventually boil off or evaporate due to heat transfer from the surroundings.

5. How long does liquid nitrogen last in a cryogenic storage tank?

A well-maintained cryogenic storage tank can keep liquid nitrogen from boiling off for months or even years, depending on the tank design and how well it’s insulated.

6. Does the rate of evaporation increase as the level of liquid nitrogen in the tank decreases?

Yes, as the level of liquid nitrogen in a tank gets lower, the rate of evaporation will increase due to the larger surface area of the exposed liquid.

7. What happens when liquid nitrogen evaporates?

When liquid nitrogen boils off, it turns into a gas that’s colorless, odorless, and tasteless. This gas can be dangerous in enclosed spaces, as it can displace oxygen and cause suffocation.

Closing Thoughts

Thanks for taking the time to learn about how long liquid nitrogen lasts in a tank! Whether you’re a scientist, a chef, or just someone who’s curious about the properties of this fascinating substance, it’s important to handle liquid nitrogen with care and be aware of its behavior in different environments. If you have any other questions or want to learn more about liquid nitrogen safety and storage, be sure to do your research and consult with a knowledgeable expert. And don’t forget to visit our site again soon for more informative articles and helpful tips!