A closer look at oxygen (O)


What is liquid oxygen?


The oxygen blog icon

Michiel Bester | Updated: June 2022

What is liquid oxygen and what happens if we breathe pure oxygen gas?

Oxygen is element number 8 on the periodic table of elements and is one of the most important elements to sustain life on earth. But did you know that the element can be found in sand, water and even in alcohol?

Properties of the oxygen element

Atomic Number:8
Atomic Symbol:O
Atomic Weight (amu):15.999
Electronegativity:3.04
Melting point:-218.79°C | -361.82°F | 54.36K
Boiling point:-182.96°C | -297.33°F | 90.19K

What does oxygen look like?

Oxygen is a colourless, odourless, tasteless gas essential to all living organisms.

Solid oxygen? Can oxygen be frozen?

Oxygen turns into a liquid at temperatures colder than -182.96°C, known as liquid oxygen, and into a solid at approximately -218°C, known as solid oxygen.

What is pure oxygen used for?

It is common knowledge that oxygen is necessary for the aerobic respiration of cells and therefore the survival of all life on earth, but not many know that oxygen has a wide range of applications besides its ability to sustain life on earth.

Liquid oxygen is used as an oxidant for liquid fuels in the propellant systems of missiles and rockets.

Oxygen is commonly used in the steel and metal industry in the production, brazing, welding and cutting of steel and other metals.

It is also used as rocket propellant.

Oxygen is also used in life support systems in aircraft, submarines, spaceflight and diving.

What are the main compounds with oxygen?

The most widely known compound with oxygen is H20 also known as water.

Silica SiO2 is found in sand, glass, and rock.

It forms part of the compound CO2.

All alcohols, carbonyls and carboxylic acids also contain oxygen.

Where can oxygen be found? The oxygen cycle:

Oxygen makes up 21% of the atmosphere by volume. The element and its compounds make up 49.2% of the mass of the Earth’s crust, and about two-thirds of the human body.

Industrial production of oxygen

  • The distillation of liquid air.
  • Pass clean, dry air through a zeolite that absorbs nitrogen and leaves oxygen
  • A newer method, which gives oxygen of higher purity, is to pass air over a partially permeable ceramic membrane

Is oxygen expensive?

Oxygen is relatively expensive, on average, canned oxygen costs just under $50 a unit.

Will we ever run out of oxygen?

Scientists predict that the earth will run out of oxygen in approximately one billion years. So you have nothing to worry about!

Who discovered the oxygen element?

The credit for discovering oxygen is shared by three chemists: Joseph Priestley, an Englishman, Carl Wilhelm Scheele a Swede, and the famous Frenchman Antoine Lavoisier.

Joseph Priestley was the first to publish about oxygen and isolated it in 1774 by focussing sunlight on mercuric oxide (HgO) and collecting the gas which came off. He noted that a candle burned more brightly in it and that it made breathing easier.

Carl Wilhelm Scheele produced oxygen in June 1771 and wrote about his discovery but it was not published until 1777.

Antoine Lavoisier also claimed to have discovered oxygen, and he proposed that the new gas be called “oxy-gène”, meaning acid-forming because he thought it was the main constituent of all acids.

Is oxygen dangerous

Breathing oxygen at higher than normal partial pressure leads to hyperoxia and can cause oxygen toxicity or oxygen poisoning. Oxygen toxicity is lung damage that happens from breathing a high concentration of oxygen, which can cause coughing and trouble breathing and in severe cases, it can even cause death. Oxygen toxicity can be prevented by lowering the amount of oxygen in supplemental oxygen-breathing sources.

Liquid oxygen can cause frostbite and cold burns if not handled with extreme care.

Fun facts about oxygen

  • Liquid and solid oxygen is a pale blue colour
  • Oxygen was the atomic weight standard for other elements until 1961 when it was replaced by carbon
  • Excited oxygen and nitrogen are responsible for the bright red, green, and yellow-green colours of The Northern Lights.

Funny oxygen Jokes, Puns and One-Liners

If trees produced wifi we would be planting them everywhere, too bad they only produce oxygen.

Somewhere out there, there is a world with no war, no hate, no hunger, and no poverty. And also no oxygen.

What do you call Oxygen and Nitrogen training together? Air Conditioning.