Liquid nitrogen is the basis of everything we do here at our ice cream shop. Our Sub Zero stores wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for to pioneering scientists who came before us. Read below to learn about how nitrogen was discovered, what it is used for, and how it transforms from a gas to a liquid.
THE DISCOVERY OF NITROGEN
The element nitrogen was first discovered in 1772 by a chemist named Daniel Rutherford while he was still a student at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. Rutherford wanted to rid the air of oxygen and carbon dioxide. He placed a mouse in a closed container. When breathable oxygen ran out, the mouse died. He then lit a candle inside the closed container, which died out. When this happened, he burnt a piece of phosphorus (now used in matchboxes). When that stopped burning, he then passed the air through a solution to remove the remaining carbon dioxide. What remained in the container was a gas eventually called nitrogen.
TURNING NITROUS GAS INTO LIQUID NITROGEN
While Rutherford worked with nitrogen in its gaseous state, over 100 years later scientists discovered how to liquidize it. In 1883, Polish professors Zygmunt Wróblewski and Karol Olszewski discovered a way to liquefy nitrogen by compressing and refrigerating the gas. However, this liquid nitrogen would quickly evaporate. In 1898, a British scientist named James Dewar created a vacuum container that is the basis for modern liquid nitrogen containers we see today. This allowed the liquid nitrogen to stay in its liquid state.
WHAT IS NITROGEN USED FOR?
We use liquid nitrogen to make our ice cream, but nitrogen is used in many other everyday products. Nitrogen is used to make nutritious fertilizers that help plants grow, can be used to help preserve food, is used in the production of certain electronics, and even to make colored dyes. Liquid nitrogen is mainly used as a refrigerant, and can be used in food (like how we use it) to preserve color, flavor, and moisture, and can also be used for medical and reproductive research.
NITROGEN QUICK FACTS:
Nitrogen makes up about 78% of the air we breathe by volume.
Nitrogen is found in all living things, from algae to people.
Nitrogen in its natural state is tasteless and odorless
- 45 million tons of nitrogen is extracted from the atmosphere each year
EXPERIENCE SCIENCE AND ICE CREAM AT THE SAME TIME
At Sub Zero Nitrogen Ice Cream shops, we use liquid nitrogen every time we create fresh ice cream for our customers. To see this element in action, find a Sub Zero liquid nitrogen ice cream store near you and stop in soon!