Friday, 25 December 2009

Friday Quiz: Bristol's Hidden Cryogenic Fluid Problem

Based on the premise that signs telling you not to do something are a sign of people trying to do it, the fact that this one is telling you not to travel in a lift (that's "elevator" for people abroad) with cryogenic fluid is a clear sign that somewhere in the city there are people trying do exactly that.

As the sign says, "Do not travel in this lift with cryogenic fluid. It could kill you". It then documents the process for transporting cryogenic fluids in an unattended lift by having people at both ends. Presumably if you are on any intermediate floor, the site of a large container and some hi-viz tape will put you off. That is something to experiment with, possibly in the Trenchard Street car park.

For our special winter festival quiz on Bristol's Transport Issues:
  1. What is Cryogenic Fluid?
  2. What exactly is it for?
  3. Why would you want to transport it in a lift?
  4. Why could it kill you?
  5. Where in the city is this sign? [ no cheating by looking up phone numbers. Ill-informed guesswork for consistency with the rest of the site.]
Happy festival activities, be they human sacrifice in the tunnels under Kingsdown, or something bleaker like watching ITV4's entire Christmas schedule.


Chris Hutt said...

A cryogenic fluid (Wikipedia reminds me)is a substance that is used to bring about very low temperatures, typically a gas like Nitrogen compressed to a liquid state. Release of such a liquid will absorb a vast amount of ambient heat as it evaporates, so cooling anything it comes in contact with down towards -200 degrees Celsius.

There are many applications for cryogenics but given the poster's connections I suspect in this case it's the production of Integrated Circuits, possibly out at Hewlett Packard or one of our universities.

Cryogenic fluids have to be contained in heavy steel cylinders to withstand the pressure that must be maintained. It follows that the containers will be heavy and will sometimes need to be transported in lifts.

Since a lift is a confined space there is a danger of a leak of the fluid displacing the air and causing suffocation, particularly if the lift got stuck. The victim might not be aware of a anything much happening until they found it difficult to breath as the oxygen content of the ambient air diminished.

SteveL said...

Getting warm, but not IC work.

Dru Marland said...

Medical? -I vaguely recall seeing mention of cryogenics during a recent hospital visit, though I was floating in a morphine haze at the time... cryosurgery is used to kill off cancers, tumours etc, apparently...

SteveL said...

They do use liquid gases for freezing off bits of the body, but this photo isn't from any hospital.

Adam said...

cooling server farms?

SteveL said...

Nice idea, but too energy inefficient. The next set of datacentres are going to free air cooling; you place them in cool and windy places, stick a couple of wind turbines up -free air cooling cuts your power budget in half, the turbines give you that power without you having to worry about grid outages, and you can maybe even push power into the grid too. Datacentres -if they so choose- can go to zero-carbon from their operations way before things like road transport can

Chris Hutt said...

'They do use liquid gases....'

Liquid gases? One or the other surely.

Horace Hippo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Horace Hippo said...

> The next set of datacentres are going to free air cooling

Air is an inefficient means of energy transfer

edit: linked up

SteveL said...

yes, it's inefficient to push around, but if the air is being pushed into the facility from the north sea or the north atlantic, then aren't paying for the fans.