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It's common to see "ice beams" that are able to freeze enemies or objects. Freezing a large object solid takes time, so most freeze rays aren't practical or logical, especially after factoring in differences in the material of the object.

As an alternate approach, is there a feasible way to snap-freeze water or another substance in a way that it freezes around an object? Is there a practical way to completely surround a human or other large object near instantly with a thick enough coating of ice/frozen material as to prevent movement?

Something such as a jet of a two liquids that chemically react and instantly crystallize, but without generating heat. I'm looking for something with an endothermic effect in particular, even if minor.

Hurdles to this question include variances in outside temperature (the effect should still be possible in Earthly temperature ranges, maybe 15C - 50C).

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    $\begingroup$ I think you'll find it's much easier to generate a quick-solidifying plastic foam of some sort than to generate a layer of ice. do you want to kill the human or not? encasing in anything solid will kill them due to lack of oxygen, regardless of temperature $\endgroup$ – Carl Witthoft May 15 '20 at 11:36
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    $\begingroup$ I'm not sure that freezing beams are illogical, search for Laser Cooling. It is currently being used to remove the energy at the atomic level but advances are being made. those guys cooled 1 gram to almost the absolute zero, I couldn't find how long did it take though $\endgroup$ – Rsf May 15 '20 at 12:15
  • $\begingroup$ did you mean F? 115C is above boiling... $\endgroup$ – Rick May 15 '20 at 13:27
  • $\begingroup$ Not sure how I typed 115C. Thanks for the catch. $\endgroup$ – dinorider May 15 '20 at 14:12
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    $\begingroup$ Real-life video on youtube $\endgroup$ – marcellothearcane May 15 '20 at 15:38
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Liquid nitrogen + liquid water

Well, actually just about any liquid gas will work here, the best thing to use is liquid helium. Probably. Very little is known about how exactly liquid helium works due to how hard it is to get that stuff. You wanted to be able to encase something in ice. Well, this launcher has the perfect two step process to do it. Step 1: Spray with water to soak it. Step 2: Spray with liquid nitrogen. Now, liquid nitrogen is a minimum of -196 Celsius, but if you want you can do even better - you can take it to around -216 Celsius before it becomes a solid. Now, since liquid nitrogen is that cold, it will draw all the heat from the water it comes into contact with and instantly turn it into ice. Along with anything else it touches.

True, it'll produce a colossal amount of nitrogen gas during the process, but if you keep it pressurized and have a thick enough stream of liquid, you'll retain enough cold to freeze the water that you've already fired. This will, of course, result in the demise of whatever organics that come into contact with the water then nitrogen as they're flash frozen and sustain irreversible damage, so be careful not to point it anything you don't want destroyed.

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    $\begingroup$ @dinorider Liquid nitrogen, not gas. I wouldn't say that the liquid itself would be particularly cumbersome, but the equipment needed to contain it is. Think something akin to a WWII-era flamethrower for scale. $\endgroup$ – Halfthawed May 15 '20 at 1:04
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    $\begingroup$ Ah, in your comments I thought you meant that the reaction would produce a giant smokescreen of nitrogen gas. $\endgroup$ – dinorider May 15 '20 at 1:09
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    $\begingroup$ Would it take a high enough pressure to overcome the Leidenfrost effect or would it just freeze because it's a thin layer of water? I imagine this would produce a very thin layer of ice on the object; what types of damage would the object incur? $\endgroup$ – dinorider May 15 '20 at 4:11
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    $\begingroup$ @dinorider The water would help with the Leidenfrost effect as the water wouldn't turn to gas. You would still have to overcome the nitrogen/water Leidenfrost, but since you're spraying the nitrogen at the water, that will help with it. As for damage, it's hard to say. Mostly depends on the length of time, but exposure to liquid nitrogen typically results in freezing until brittle and permanent tissue damage. You might be able to take a very brief amount with only frostbite to show for it. $\endgroup$ – Halfthawed May 15 '20 at 5:10
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    $\begingroup$ I would suggest using some sort of semi-frozen slush rather than liquid water. It's a little harder to store, but you can get much thicker coverage. $\endgroup$ – Ruadhan May 15 '20 at 9:07
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Supercooled water.

supercools

source

This is water that is cooled past the point of freezing. If anything happens to it, it turns to ice but until then it is water. It is kind of like the guy in that Poe story who gets hypnotized when he dies, so he is tricked into still being alive. Ok, just kind of.

In any case, shoot this out of a hose and it will turn to ice when it hits your target. It is not exactly like comic freeze rays which in addition to freezing make big blocks of ice come out of nowhere. But this stuff will hit you and wrap you in ice just fine.

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    $\begingroup$ Would the agitation from firing the water in a jet be enough to force the water to freeze on itself? And could the efficacy of the water freezing be affected by the ambient outdoor temperature? $\endgroup$ – dinorider May 15 '20 at 0:51
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    $\begingroup$ @dinorider IIRC you need an impurity or seed point for the crystallization into ice to begin. It's like the diet Coke + Mentos reaction, but with ice instead of foam. $\endgroup$ – nick012000 May 15 '20 at 8:32
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    $\begingroup$ Funny, though in practice shock can be sufficient to start the freezing process. It could realistically work in a static setup, like a trap, for example above a door, would be triggered when the person passes under or tries to pick the lock. It's show on youtu.be/ph8xusY3GTM?t=134 then jump to the beginning of the video for explanation and to the end to see how it is finicky in practice. $\endgroup$ – Stéphane Gourichon May 15 '20 at 12:58
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    $\begingroup$ Supper cooled water produces a slush due to the latent heat of freezing some of the water bringing the rest of the water up to the transition temperature. You'd have to get the liquid water to -80 C to before it was cold enough to fully crystalize without having some liquid left. However the coldest you can theoretically get liquid water without it spontaneously crystallization is -49C, and practical concerns will raise this limit further. So this will produce a slush, not a solid. $\endgroup$ – Rick May 15 '20 at 13:39
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    $\begingroup$ My intuition is that you would need a completely laminar flow for this to not freeze in the hose. $\endgroup$ – Skyler May 15 '20 at 13:42
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Liquid nitrogen

Liquid nitrogen is very cold. Enough of it will kill you. Dunking something in liquid nitrogen makes it very brittle. As YouTube shows, a small amount won't do much (don't try at home). If you could first cover your target in water and then cover it in enough liquid nitrogen, you could create a freeze ray. A basic fire engine like this can move around 2000 gallons of water per minute. Even with a much smaller pump, you could still wet and freeze your targets quickly.

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