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Did you ever think you could make liquid nitrogen in your own garage? This is an industrial process so how can an individual do this? Still doubt me? Intrigued? Read on.

As a lover of science I tried to think of a challenging project that was out of the ordinary. After going through the internet web and Youtube I realized that no one had made liquid nitrogen in his home. Yes, I did see some videos where some would use a Stirling Cooler from a cryorefrigerator and use this to condense nitrogen on the exterior of the cold-head. While one is making liquified gas, this is done using a prefabricated machine. I wanted to make the machine that liquefies the gas. Furthermore, a cryocooler has a very low production rate. You will only get about 500 - 1000ml per day. On the following pages I will walk you through the basics of how to build your own liquid nitrogen generator. Using easily obtained materials you can liquefy nitrogen or air. The unit cools to -320F in under 50 minutes. The production rate is about 350 cc/hr.

A full tutorial and plans are at http://homemadeliquidnitrogen.com This page goes over theory, thermodynamics and more detail on where to get components and how to build this. This Instructable serves as a general introduction to how this baby is put together.

I have just added a new web tutorial on how to make your own N2 gas from the air. I will add this as a new Instructable in the next few days. You can get a link for it at the end of this one.

I have also built a high-precision cryogenic digital LCD thermometer for this project, which you can buy for yourself. You can see how it compares with an Omega digital thermometer here.

Ok. The video above gives you a quick 3 minute overview of the project. At the end of this tutorial I briefly mention the PSA I made for making the pure N2 from the air for the generator. If you're ready for 320 degrees below zero we can begin...

 
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shawn_sch6 days ago

HI I am an engineering technologist looking to build a hydrogen fuel cell and to use a system very similar to this to cool it. You say a refrigerator compressor would work. Would there have to be an oil remover between the cooling tower and compressor? Are we talking about a dry compressor? Running a couple of these in parallel is a bad idea? Thanks.

what about using it for ac. is that a good idea?
Mecheng7029 days ago
Did I read you correctly? You're getting 30 liters per minute? If that's not a typo then that production is incredible. Is it correct?
SidA21 month ago

How much does this entire thing cost? I want to make one and I am fine using a smaller compressor, but would running it for that long cause problems?

JWSmythe1 month ago

This is awesome. I want to build one now. I don't have any reason to have it, but I'm sure I could find some. :)

hazzalandy1 year ago

could you use car brake pipe ( also 1/4 inch, but copper and seamed) for the coolers to replace the stainless steel? Its an awful lot cheaper

Check the manufacturer specifications on the line before considering it. Cars can see around 1,000 psi in their brake system. He specifies that this system can see 3,000 psi. I did a quick search and found 25' x 3/8" zinc coated steel brake line for $25. It claims 16,000 psi burst pressure, but doesn't specify the wall thickness.

Trust but verify. The first time you load it up, expect it to catastrophically fail. You should do that anyways. One little manufacturing defect can make a rather large mess very quickly. By "mess", I mean rapid disassemble of the unit and anything around it, including you.

car brake pipes are copper coated steel. The copper is to help prevent rusting

In the UK, car brake pipes are usually steel direct from the manufacturer. However, both pure (relative term) copper and cunifer (copper/nickel alloy) is available. I imagine these are available elsewhere in the world? I have friends in the USA who use both copper and cunifer..

imsmooth (author)  hazzalandy1 year ago

I'm not familiar with this tubing. You first have to make sure that it can handle the pressure. Second, you want to make sure it is thin enough to readily allow heat transfer.

fixfireleo1 year ago

based on your title, i thought you were making a generator that ran on liquid nitrogen. maybe that can be your next project!! :)

That could be done. Look at Sterling engines and/or TEC/TEG (seeback and peltier) modules. They can make mechanical or electrical energy from temperature differentials. I would think that would be horribly inefficient, but it could do something. :)

MattTuck2 months ago
About what, would you say this cost...? Where did you find all of these parts?
primosanch2 months ago
Absolutely incredible. Thanks for sharing.
ViperSRT3g1 year ago

I'd love to make this, but I'm unsure of how I could put this liquid N2 to work.

well, if the T1000 comes along, this'd be rather handy don't you think? :P

Hope this comment doesn't break posting rules!

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liquid nitrogen is used in many shop/industrial applications. I need it for cryo-treating certain alloys, shrinking parts for interference fit, purging oxygen from containers. Freezing corpses...

i agree with u:)

I was wondering if this in the first steps scrubs/removes CO2 from the air why couldn't you use the CO2 as dry ice to help cool the gas in the pre-cooler?

NotMeMom2 months ago

In step 9 ...

"Such a simple solution that alluded me" should be "Such a simple solution that eluded me" ... in this usage, allude = "to refer casually or indirectly; make an allusion (usually followed by to): He often alluded to his poverty." ... elude = "to escape the understanding, perception, or appreciation of: The answer eludes me.

Otherwise, good project!

imsmooth (author)  NotMeMom2 months ago

Thanks for the correction. The change has been made.

Jonathan

Also, search for the word "mute" in your article. I believe you meant to use "moot".
allegfede2 months ago

wow!

helzcurrah6 months ago

Hi there,

I work as an engineer for one of the companies that makes Liquid nitrogen. I just want to point out there are some very serious risks with this type of equipment which even the professional companies sometimes fall foul of. My professional advice would be "don't try this without proper chemical engineering training", but since I know you already are, here are some safety tips to consider:

* Never store liquid nitrogen or operate this equipment in an enclosed area, always ensure sufficient ventilation. Nitrogen is an asphyxiate with no smell. The only way to protect yourself is to operate outdoors AND wear a gas composition monitor to warn you if oxygen levels in the air fall below 19.5%

* Make sure the equipment is thermally isolated well as it reaches extremely cold temperatures and you may burn yourself if you touch it. Frostbite may also occur if you spill any cold product on yourself. Always wear full length clothes and insulated gloves.

* If there is any possibility of liquid nitrogen being trapped in a part of the equipment (due to closed valves or ice blockage), fit pressure relief devices. When the liquid warms and expands, it can cause an explosion if there is no escape path.

* Distillation columns take in a lot of hydrocarbons and nitrous oxide with the air. These components build up in the distillation still, and can cause an explosion when they react with the liquid oxygen in the still. Ensure you purge the liquid often enough to remove these contaminants.

*If you are running this in your garage (I know I told you not to), don't enter before you take an atmosphere reading. Make sure oxygen is between 19.5 and 22%.

* Make sure all the pipework and vessel is constructed from clean, oxygen-safe metal. During startup, the unit will produce liquid oxygen before it starts to produce liquid nitrogen. High concentration oxygen reacts with any organic contamination, and even metal can become a fuel source for a fire. Carbon steel is not an appropriate material, stainless steel, aluminium or monel is better. Definitely do not use rubber pipes, seals or oil based lubricants!

* There is a chance the atmosphere around the equipment will be oxygen rich, so take care to eliminate all sources of ignition, such as electrical switches, flames, static on your clothes, sparking tools and anything that gets very hot.

wow, glad to see someone who's actually "in the know" providing safety tips and not some armchair "expert" like i've seen in the comment section of a lot of 'ibles that had any hazards to them.

gith helzcurrah2 months ago

Helzcurrah

You know us so well, Thanks for the safety tips they may safe someone from great difficulty. You know like death.. all joking aside thanks for pointing out some of the dangers that can be encounterd with this.

Great instructable!!!

@ helzcurrah Looking forward to seeing you do some instructables on related topics. I think adding a timed fresh air inlet fan to the "garage" to cycle out the undesirable product might be good. I Might be making one of these systems soon.

Ralphxyz2 months ago

Where did yo get the tube bender. I cannot find a 360° bender.

imsmooth (author)  Ralphxyz2 months ago

I may have posted the source on http://homemadeliquidnitrogen.com

bilgrami2 months ago

Hi, can it be used to chill water for cooling purposes, i.e. air conditioning without compressor. also is it operating in closed loop so that the nitrogen is used over n over again, instead of being wasted. If anyone can come up with low cost cooling option there is a great market to be tapped.contact me on haiderbil@hotmail.com

evdscheer4 months ago

I am looking for someone who can make a LN2 generator for me. Please contact me on evdscheer@gmail.com!

mthayne8 months ago
Argon is the gas that would make life great for millions of us do it your selfers with mig and tig welders. That should be your next project.

You might wish to consider using plastic drainage culvert tubing as a housing for your cooling tower, it s available In a variety of sizes (usually in multiples of 6")

in 10foot and 20foot lengths and typically made of PVC, which is unlike cardboard

concrete form tube won't disintegrate when it gets wet.

nicko08 months ago

i use liquid oxygen for scientific glass blowing. would you help design one for liquid oxygen/

studleylee8 months ago

Amazing. I will do this!!!!

RubenL18 months ago

This is a great piece of work, i would love to buy one if you do make any others! this would help me with school projects and many ideas!

imsmooth (author) 9 months ago
Yes. The compressed gas is cooled by the expanded gas. When it expands it is cooler. This colder gas cools the pre-expanded gas even more, which is cooler still when it expands. This process repeats until the gas is cold enough to liquify.
EthanP39 months ago

I understand how the process works but I'm confused by the Regenerative cooling tower.

Does it work like this,

The compressed gas flows through the cooling tower and cools down, if it does not cool down enough to liquefy it will flow back up the PFTE pipe and cool down the gas even more and repeat the process until it liquefies?

en2oh1 year ago

can you give any pointers on where you sourced you CMS?

Btw, I just got my Stirling Cooler up and running. Cooling down as I type.

imsmooth (author)  en2oh1 year ago
I'm still trying to set up my source to get the CMS for everyone. I have not forgotten your inquiry.

Also, I've developed a high precision cryogenic thermometer. You can read about it on my site at http://homemadeliquidnitrogen.com
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