How much pressure does it take to explode an empty 2 liter plastic bottle?

Question by rubbytubby: How much pressure does it take to explode an empty 2 liter plastic bottle?

If say you use liquid nitrogen and the bottle capped, how many pounds of force would the nitrogen exert on the bottle to make it fail with a large BOOM?

Best answer:

Answer by giraffedata
I have only part of an answer: The only pressure possible in an empty bottle is zero. Maybe you’re thinking of a bottle that contains nothing but air. But it doesn’t matter what it contains; the pressure it takes to explode it will be the same no matter what it contains. gives a lower bound on the answer, indicating that warm Coca Cola exerts about 380 kPa; presumably, that’s well short of the bursting point.

Know better? Leave your own answer in the comments!

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4 comments on “How much pressure does it take to explode an empty 2 liter plastic bottle?
  1. hungryjoe says:

    Carbonated drinks when vigorously agitated in the bottle should not generally produce an internal pressure exceeding 4 atmospheres ca 60psi or ca. 400kPa. Glass soft drinks bottles were designed to withstand about 10 atmospheres, implying a safety factor of 2-2.5 wrt the expected max.pressure. If plastic bottles are similarly designed then 150psi would be about the expected failure point. This would require about 15g of liquid nitrogen to be placed in the bottle to exceed this pressure. About, roughly, sort of -not an exact thing this but its a ball-park estimate.

  2. Mustela Frenata says:

    From experience building “Bottle Rockets” (rockets made from plastic soda bottles, using compressed air and water to launch them) and compressed-air powered toy vehicles that use soda bottles to store the compressed air, I have found that the bursting pressure of plastic bottles runs from about 100 psi to about 200 psi.

    The trend has been towards the lower pressures — the old round-bottomed bottles of 10 or 15 years ago would always make it up to 200 psi before bursting. But modern bottles have thinner walls and complex shapes along the bottoms, both of which weaken them. Today I do not count on a bottle being able to hold more than 100 psi, though realistically most burst between 120 psi and 150 psi.

    BTW, when making these “cryotechnic devices” (like pyrotechnics but using cold, e.g. dry ice or liquid nitrogen), don’t forget that the bottle DOES send sharp-edged little bits of plastic shrapnel flying everywhere, out to 50 feet or more in many cases. Also the bottle neck and cap can easily cause serious injuries even at surprising distances. “Bottle Bombs” are not toys, treat them just as you would a very powerfull firecracker like an M-1000.

  3. Curly says:

    At least 100 psi.

  4. oneman c says:

    the myth-busters figured this out on Tv…Id look at their website….they built water-rockets with bottles to test the chinese myth of the rocket chair

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