Application and development of liquid oxygen

- May 22, 2018-

Liquid oxygen (LOX or LO2) is the liquid state of oxygen. Liquid oxygen has an important application in space, submarine or gas industry. The liquid oxygen is a light blue liquid with strong paramagnetism. Liquid oxygen has a very wide range of industrial and medical USES. The industrial process of producing liquid oxygen is fractional distillation of liquid air.

The total expansion ratio of liquid oxygen will reach 860:1. Due to this advantage, this product will be widely used in industrial production and military. Because of the low temperature properties of the product, the liquid oxygen will make its contact material very brittle. Liquid oxygen is a particularly strong oxidizer, and organic matter burns violently in liquid oxygen. Some substances may explode if they are immersed in liquid oxygen for a long period of time, including asphalt.

In the aerospace industry, liquid oxygen is a very important oxidizer, which is generally used in combination with liquid hydrogen or kerosene (both as reducing agents). Some of the earliest ballistic missiles use liquid oxygen as an oxidant, like V2 (liquid oxygen - alcohol) and r-7 (liquid oxygen - kerosene). When used as a propellant, the liquid oxygen will provide the engine with a relatively high specific impulse.

In addition, compared to another common propellant combination tetra-dimethylhydrazine, several combinations of liquid oxygen are clean and environment-friendly (hydrazine is highly toxic). The early intercontinental ballistic missiles, which used to use liquid oxygen, were quickly abandoned because liquid oxygen was difficult to store and must be injected into the missile fuel tank before launch.

In the open air, liquid oxygen explosives are used, and this practice is gradually being phased out, because the liquid oxygen explosives are very dangerous and prone to accidents. Also because liquid oxygen is volatilizing faster under normal temperature, the life of this kind of explosive is relatively short, generally also in 15 ~ 20 minutes. In this way, it is necessary to have a temporary dip before use.