Could a tank of CO2 be dangerous? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 27 (permalink) Old 11-02-2006, 03:04 PM Thread Starter
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Could a tank of CO2 be dangerous?

I have a 10 pound tank of CO2 under my tank, similar to what many of you have, I'm sure.

I know that CO2 can kill you if in high enough concentrations as it will your fish.

What if that tank that I filled today, ended up with a huge leak and dumped into the room in a short amount of time. It would probably make plenty of noise...but that is besides the point. If I walk into the room afterwards, could I end up dead?

How remote a possibility is this, do you think?
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post #2 of 27 (permalink) Old 11-02-2006, 03:24 PM
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depends on the size of the room and what kind of air movement, venthilation, fresh air introduction there is in the room.

a 10 lb. tank holds a large concentration of CO2, more than you would think. That level of CO2 in a small room can be dangerous and deadly.

I highly doubt that there would be an fatalities unless you purposely sat in that room while it was happening and breathed in nothing bu pure CO2. I think a single breath of pure CO2 is enough to make anyone passout instantly. Sooooo you wouldnt know you were dead anyway!

just keep the place venhilated and you hsould be fine

ohh and btw, mythbusters just aired an episode where they found out if it was possible for a large compressed air tank could break through a wall if enough pressure was released all at once.

it worked, it went straight through the wall, but you have so completely sever the valve stem off INSTANTANEOUSLY to get that much pressure release. almost impossible in the home aquarium setting. dont worry, even if your CO2 tank fell over and something broke on the stem or the regulator, you would only get a slow leak.

MythBusters TV Show - MythBusters Television Show - TV.com
episode 75, air cylinder rocket

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post #3 of 27 (permalink) Old 11-02-2006, 03:26 PM
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The concentrations of CO2 necessary to cause asphyxiation are very very high. So high, in fact, it would require a perfect storm of conditions to actually seriously hurt anyone with a 10 # bottle. Your mucuos membranes in your nose and sinuses would be in severe pain long before you were in serious risk of injury or death.

CO2 is also inert so it is non-flammable/explosive. The only danger would be associated with sudden decompression - i.e. if you broke the nozzle off or punctured the cannister. The pressure decompression could cause shrapnel...so....dont fire a gun at your cannister

Now - Carbon Monoxide (CO) is very dangerous and there are hundreds of deaths every year from this - typcially from people burning/leaking propane or natural gas based devices without proper ventilation.
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post #4 of 27 (permalink) Old 11-02-2006, 03:27 PM
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CO2 is not poisonous to the extent that if the tank dumped you would drop dead on the spot. You would get tired and probably dizzy and disoriented. If you didn't do anything when you noticed those symptoms then it could get deadly. If you were to fall asleep without getting some fresh air, you might not wake up. That's a pretty extreme case. If however the tank dumped into the room while you were taking a nap on the couch, that might be ugly.
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post #5 of 27 (permalink) Old 11-02-2006, 04:13 PM
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Hmm, thanks for clearing it up for me too. I always kind of wondered if there were dangers associated with Co2 tanks. It sounds like only in very, very extreme cases. So rare, that it likely won't happen...but shouldn't be ignored, regardless.
Does anyone know if its a good idea to have the Co2 tank sitting sideways during transportation? Sometimes when I've gone to fill it up, I lay it down on the floor of my car, as it would probably fall over during the drive anyway, without someone there to hold it in place....plus, I don't want it falling over and damaging anything.

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Last edited by ringram; 11-02-2006 at 07:31 PM.
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post #6 of 27 (permalink) Old 11-02-2006, 05:32 PM
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Quote:
The only danger would be associated with sudden decompression - i.e. if you broke the nozzle off or punctured the cannister. The pressure decompression could cause shrapnel...so....dont fire a gun at your cannister
There is no reason to fear asphyxiation. If the valve at the top of the bottle were to break off you wouldn't have to fear an explosion or shrapnel. What you would have to fear would be a 10lb or 15lb (depending on size and material the CO2 bottle is made of) missile flying around the inside of the house. If the valve broke off, the CO2 gas would fly out of the opening, not causing an explosion, but a jet like expulsion of gas resulting in one particularly dangerous situation.

Bottled CO2 is as safe as the propane bottles many of us use on our barbecue grills. Just handle them with the same care, caution and respect.


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post #7 of 27 (permalink) Old 11-02-2006, 05:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Momotaro View Post
Bottled CO2 is as safe as the propane bottles many of us use on our barbecue grills. Just handle them with the same care, caution and respect.
Safer IMO since the contents aren't combustible.

In reference to the shrapnel, Mythbusters did a Jaws episode, as Mike said you get a metal missile, not a bomb.

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post #8 of 27 (permalink) Old 11-02-2006, 06:05 PM Thread Starter
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Yeah, not too worried about it breaking since the tanks are built strong for that reason, and the design has survived the test of time. The tank I got is actually older than me - One test stamp on it is from '73!

Anyway, I guess I'm not totally convinced there isn't a very small chance of something like that happening. From what little research I have done, you can drop dead from CO2 without any symptoms beforehand...
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post #9 of 27 (permalink) Old 11-02-2006, 06:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrashTest View Post
What if that tank that I filled today, ended up with a huge leak and dumped into the room in a short amount of time. It would probably make plenty of noise...but that is besides the point. If I walk into the room afterwards, could I end up dead?

How remote a possibility is this, do you think?
This post (#5) does the math and finds an increase of ~70ppm (normal is 0.3% or 370 ppm) for a 5# tank in a normal sized room.

https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/eq...ide#post152980

In that post Kevin lists the OSHA PEL (exposure limit) as 5000ppm.

Carbon Monoxide is COMPLETELY different in this respect.

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post #10 of 27 (permalink) Old 11-02-2006, 07:10 PM Thread Starter
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I supose I should have searched...

If that math is right, then I shouldn't have anything to worry about, even if the entire tank emptied. I have to say, however, without looking at the math, a 10 pound tank would seem to be able to significantly raise the CO2 in an enclosed room.
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post #11 of 27 (permalink) Old 11-02-2006, 07:39 PM
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CO2 is an odd gas. If you have ever used a CO2 fire extinguisher you know that what comes out when you open the valve wide open is not a gas, so much as it is a shower of dry ice particles. And a small particle of dry ice is a very, very much smaller volume of CO2 than an equal mass in gaseous form. When you convert any liquid to a gas you have to supply heat to the liquid to make it change to a gas. There is a limit to how fast you can transfer heat to a "puddle" of liquid CO2. So, I suspect that if you knocked the top off of a CO2 bottle, you would first get a gush of dry ice particles, followed by a much slower shower of dry ice particles. (Dry ice because the heat needed to convert the liquid CO2 to gaseous CO2 would have to come largely from the CO2 itselt, which would freeze the gaseous CO2 being ejected.) The real problem is that of any compress gas cylinder - there is a lot of energy stored in the compressed gas, so if it lets go suddenly, the cylinder is a projectile. But, a CO2 cylinder can't be nearly as dangerous as a compressed air cylinder, because the air is still a gas in the cylinder, not a liquid.

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post #12 of 27 (permalink) Old 11-02-2006, 07:59 PM
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I have laid my cannister on its side while driving it home and I don't see any danger there. You just don't want to lay it on it's side when the valve is open since the bottom of the tank is liquid CO2 and you do not want that going into your regulator
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post #13 of 27 (permalink) Old 11-02-2006, 09:08 PM
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Agreed, there is a university demo of a CO2 tank opened into a burlap bag. VERY loud, makes dry ice. As to the myth buster link, I think the tank was at a much greater pressure (3000 psi?) vs ~800 psi. Treat it with the same respect as BBQ gas.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoppy View Post
CO2 is an odd gas. If you have ever used a CO2 fire extinguisher you know that what comes out when you open the valve wide open is not a gas, so much as it is a shower of dry ice particles. And a small particle of dry ice is a very, very much smaller volume of CO2 than an equal mass in gaseous form. When you convert any liquid to a gas you have to supply heat to the liquid to make it change to a gas. There is a limit to how fast you can transfer heat to a "puddle" of liquid CO2. So, I suspect that if you knocked the top off of a CO2 bottle, you would first get a gush of dry ice particles, followed by a much slower shower of dry ice particles. (Dry ice because the heat needed to convert the liquid CO2 to gaseous CO2 would have to come largely from the CO2 itselt, which would freeze the gaseous CO2 being ejected.) The real problem is that of any compress gas cylinder - there is a lot of energy stored in the compressed gas, so if it lets go suddenly, the cylinder is a projectile. But, a CO2 cylinder can't be nearly as dangerous as a compressed air cylinder, because the air is still a gas in the cylinder, not a liquid.

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post #14 of 27 (permalink) Old 11-02-2006, 10:47 PM
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i agree i would be more worried about the fact that it gets so cold, my friend had his needle valve go bad on a paintball cylinder while he was driving so he grabed it and held it out the window. Ended up getting some pretty bad burns on his hand.
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post #15 of 27 (permalink) Old 11-02-2006, 11:10 PM
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The danger is that the tank is under pressure. If you feel there is something wrong with the regulator or you see hairline fractures on the canister, get it out of the house, CAREFULLY!

As to how long to keep a tank, that is a good question. Someone mentioned that they had a tank that was older then them. I would seriously have it checked. Don't wait for an incident or accident. Where I live a propane tank has a life of 10 years before they stop filling it and take your tank. That may or not apply to a CO2 tank, but worth checking anyways. Why risk it. Safety has no price.

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