Properties Of Cryogenic Fluids

There are presently several database programs of thermodynamic properties data developed specifically for fluids commonly associated with low temperature processing including helium, hydrogen, neon, nitrogen, oxygen, argon, and methane. For example, the NIST Standard Reference Database 12, Version 3.0 includes a total of 34 ther-mophysical properties for seventeen fluids in the database. Cryodata Inc. provides a similar computer version for 28 pure fluids as well as for mixtures incorporating many of these fluids. However, a few peculiarities associated with the fluids of helium, hydrogen, oxygen, and air need to be noted below.

Liquid helium-4 can exist in two different liquid phases: liquid helium I, the normal liquid, and liquid helium II, the superfluid, since under certain conditions the latter fluid acts as if it had no viscosity. The phase transition between the two liquid phases is identified as the lambda line and where this transition intersects the vapor-pressure curve is designated as the lambda point. Thus, there is no triple point for this fluid as for other fluids. In fact, solid helium can only exist under a pressure of 2.5 MPa or more.

A unique property of hydrogen is that it can exist in two different molecular forms: orthohydrogen and parahydrogen. (This is also true for deuterium, an isotope of hydrogen with an atomic mass of 2.) The thermodynamic equilibrium composition of the ortho- and para-varieties is temperature dependent. The equilibrium mixture of 75 percent orthohydrogen and 25 percent parahydrogen at ambient temperatures is recognized as normal hydrogen.

In contrast to other cryogenic fluids, liquid oxygen is slightly magnetic. It is also chemically reactive, particularly with hydrocarbon materials. Oxygen thus presents a safety problem and requires extra precautions in handling.

Since air is a mixture of predominantly nitrogen, oxygen, and a host of lesser impurities, there has been less interest in developing precise thermodynamic properties. The only recent correlation of thermody-namic properties is that published by Vasserman, et al. (Barouch, Israel Program for Scientific Translations, Jerusalem, 1970), and is based on the principle of corresponding states because of the scarcity of experimental data.

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