liquid air


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liquid air,

ordinary air that has been liquefied by compression and cooling to extremely low temperatures (see liquefactionliquefaction,
change of a substance from the solid or the gaseous state to the liquid state. Since the different states of matter correspond to different amounts of energy of the molecules making up the substance, energy in the form of heat must either be supplied to a substance
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). Its commercial preparation involves purification by washing to remove soluble impurities and by passage over calcium oxide (lime) to remove the carbon dioxide; compression, under a pressure of 200 atmospheres, or about 3,000 lb per sq in.; cooling, by passage through pipes immersed in cold water; treatment with sodium hydroxide to remove excess water; and rapid expansion, the expanding air passing back over the pipe from which it has just escaped absorbing so much heat that the air remaining in the pipe becomes liquid. Freshly liquefied air consists of 78.1% nitrogen, 21.0% oxygen, 0.9% argon, and very small amounts of rare gases and hydrogen in solution. Its boiling point is approximately −195°C;. Because of fractional evaporation, its oxygen concentration and its boiling point increase with time. It must be kept in a specially designed container, the Dewar flaskDewar flask
[for Sir James Dewar], container after which the common thermos bottle is patterned. It consists of two flasks, one placed inside the other, with a vacuum between. The vacuum prevents the conduction of heat from one flask to the other.
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, because at ordinary temperatures it absorbs heat rapidly and reverts to the gaseous state. Liquid air is used commercially for freezing other substances and especially as an intermediate step in the production of nitrogen, oxygen, and argon and the other inert gases. As the temperature of liquid air rises, the nitrogen evaporates first at −195.8°C;, the argon next at −185.7°C;, and the oxygen last at −183°C;. See low-temperature physicslow-temperature physics,
science concerned with the production and maintenance of temperatures much below normal, down to almost absolute zero, and with various phenomena that occur only at such temperatures.
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.
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liquid air

[′lik·wəd ′er]
(physics)
Air in the liquid state obtained as a faintly bluish, transparent, mobile, intensely cold liquid by compressing purified air and cooling it to a temperature below the boiling points of its principal components, nitrogen and oxygen; used chiefly as a refrigerant.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

liquid air

Air that has been liquefied by cooling it below the freezing point of both oxygen and nitrogen. Its boiling point is approximately −195°C (−319°F). It is slightly bluish and transparent in appearance.
An Illustrated Dictionary of Aviation Copyright © 2005 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved
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