Liquid nitrogen ice cream attracts students to Earth Day event

The Chemistry club shows support for the greenhouse effect

By: Gary Zimmerman
The Chemistry club hosted a fun event to engage with the students this week about respecting our planet on this Earth Day. Members of the organization worked in concert with Dr. Tice to deliver homemade ice cream. This ice cream didn’t come from a freezer however. It was made with liquid nitrogen. Liquid nitrogen is a cloud-making chemical that regularly exists at temperatures below -149 degrees, which hissed and spat as the students saw ice cream mixed into the foggy air before their eyes.

Students were allowed to take home a coffee mug that said, “Earth Day 2017.”

Dr. Tice explained that Van der Walls force is the weakest molecular force that exists during dipole interactions. 

“Free ice cream dude why else, and looking at liquid nitrogen is pretty cool too!”

A conversation about ice cream quickly transitioned into the topic of the Dakota Pipeline with Rasana Pradhan. Rasana Pradhan is an Environmental Safety and Health Management major here at the University, and she explained her research.  “Native Americans on their reserve, in 1968 I think, had an unofficial treaty, no official treaty, over the land – or at least that is what is being argued.”   

The first phase of the project will cost 3.4 million, and the Native American protesting groups are still holding camps outside of the construction site for the right to their own land. It’s likely that the building of the pipeline will begin in May.

Pradhan continued to describe the negative outcomes of the project in relation to the environment by explaining the process, “You need to drill through the ground you see, which is like a sponge in this explanation, and then even if the project is completed if there is a slight leak the water sources nearby could be contaminated,” she said.

Pradhan also spoke of the destructive effects the pipeline can have on citizens and tenants who live near the near the project as well. “It affects everything; they might suffer from severe disease; nervous system disorders, digestive problems, skin infections and disease in the gastrointestinal tract,” Pradhan said.

So not only does the pipeline destroy what was considered a peaceful community, but any leaks into the water table, or the nearby water sources for that community, can lead to destructive measures of the same community, long after people have moved off the land. This happens naturally in the environment if they live anywhere near the same water source or above the same water table. Leaks aren’t the only negative possibilities from constructing the pipeline.

“When you drill down, deep down, the earth’s the crust holds lots of gases. During the drilling process, you can have pockets of explosive gases ignite and ooze out through the openings these explosions create in the fuel line,” Pradhan continued.

Long-term effects can be much more damaging than both the water table pollution and the explosions on site during the drilling for this fuel source. 

“As the project reaches completion there is more availability of fuel and the price of gas goes down, which can lead to more consumption of this commodity, more cars as sales go up, and more fuel consumed on a daily level,” Pradhan said.

And the buck doesn’t stop there. With the climb in consumption in the market, environmental majors also learn of the long-term side effects of these macroeconomics. Pradhan continued, “This process involves more emission of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, at a higher rate,” Pradhan said. “This can lead to more industry, which means cheaper fuel for more equipment, which also contributes to waves of more emission.”

And as we have all learned in middle school, “contribute to more climate change by supporting the greenhouse effect.”



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