This basic design was developed almost seventy years ago by those tasked
with designing a device for the execution of condemned criminals. With
very few exceptions, it is still state of the art. It is basic, effective
and reasonably safe. Failure to follow these criteria in the design of
a gas chamber would result in death to the operators and others not concerned
with the execution process. These criteria were developed in the United
States, where the only execution gas chambers were ever built, or used.
These basic design principles have proven themselves for almost three-quarters
of a century. They were even utilized by the Germans in the construction
of their delousing chambers to fight vermin infestation and typhus in central
Europe in the 1930s and 1940s.
8.001 Required: Design a Lethal Gas Chamber to utilize hydrogen cyanide
gas for the execution of convicted criminals, knowing the gas is extremely
deadly, explosive, and condenses at 78.3 degrees Fahrenheit.
8.002 The chamber and all inlets, whether electrical or mechanical,
must be sealed to prevent leakage. The door must be gasketed with some
type of pressure seal as used on water-tight doors at sea. The windows,
if any, must be gasketed and sealed. Further, the chamber must be operated
at a pressure less than the outside ambient pressure (vacuum) to insure
that any leak would be inward.
8.003 Because the gas is explosive, all lighting and electrical hardware
in the chamber must be explosion-proof. Any mechanical hardware must be
prevented from causing a spark, as well as the occupant who must be restrained
from causing an explosion. The concentration of the gas at the generator
or at its source (the inert carrier in the case of Zyklon B) is almost
100%, much greater than its 6% lower explosion level (lel).
8.004 Either the gas is to be generated, supplied from tanks or supplied
from an inert carrier such as Zyklon B. If it is to be generated, mechanical
means must be supplied to drop sodium cyanide into an acid solution. If
it is to be supplied from tanks, a heated water jacket must be used to
vaporize it from a liquid (its form in the tank). If Zyklon B is to be
used, a hot air circulator must be employed to evaporate the gas (boil
it off) from the inert carrier. The simplest means is to generate the gas
in the chamber. If we used tanks, the heater and the valves must all be
explosion proof. If Zyklon B is utilized, we need an expensive circulator,
piping system, additional seals on the chamber and the pump and, further,
must be concerned with possible gas leaks outside the chamber proper. Further,
we must see that the heater never causes an electrical spark.
8.005 We must have a system for exhausting the air-gas mixture from
the chamber and a stack above the tallest object to dissipate the gas before
it can harm anyone. This requires an inlet valve and an exhaust valve,
both gasketed, and an exhaust fan capable of sufficient flow to clear the
chamber a number of times in a short span of time. The intake air must
be heated to a temperature of greater than 78.3 degrees Fahrenheit (25.7
Celsius) to prevent condensation of the hydrocyanic acid in the chamber.
We must add a strong base to the intake air to neutralize any leakage backwards
to the operators.
8.006 After the usage, we must have a system or procedure to neutralize
the executee's body of hydrocyanic acid and to purge the chamber of the
same. This requires the washing of the subject, as well as the chamber,
with a strong base while wearing protective suits and gas masks or air
supplies. Further, we must have some type of indicator for gas leakage,
as well as an air exhaust system to protect the operators. We require special
hydrogen cyanide medical kits, resuscitators and doctors trained to handle
an emergency. We must restrict the hydrogen cyanide gas and the residual
prussic acid or Zyklon B carrier from unsuspectingly coming into contact
with the operation.