The distance of the buyer to the production plant, the cost of natural gas and the way liquid nitrogen is packaged and handled factor into the price of liquid nitrogen. There is a direct correlation between the first two factors and the price of liquid hydrogen, whereas higher quality packaging and handling also increase its cost.
An increase in either the distance to the production plant or the cost of natural gas affects the price of liquid nitrogen. To produce anhydrous ammonia gas, the fertilizer used to produce nitrogen, plants combine the atmosphere with natural gas at temperatures above 900 degrees Fahrenheit and pressures between 2,900 to 14,700 pounds per cubic inch pressure. During this process, the plants use natural gas also as a form of energy to create the high temperature and pressure levels required. As such, the two prices correlate directly.
When packaged and delivered in vacuum-insulated thermos flasks, liquid nitrogen costs more than it would in bulk storage tanks. The more expensive Dewar flasks are often the preferred method of packaging as liquid nitrogen is an extremely delicate substance. Liquid nitrogen can cause instant frostbite if it comes into contact with human skin. Similarly, liquid nitrogen has very strict internal pressure requirements regarding the container. These reasons render Dewar flasks as the ideal method of packaging and increase the price of liquid nitrogen.
Nevertheless, Karen Fan states that some 80 percent of the atmosphere is nitrogen.Therefore, liquid nitrogen can be produced practically anywhere and should remain relatively cheap.