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Did you say Helium ? More than 100 years ago, K. Onnes pioneered Helium liquefaction and discovered a couple of years later superconductivity !


By the end of 2010, a liquefying plant was installed in LPS.

 

In sept. 2009, the purchase order was notified to Air Liquide company, which had a recently started a new activity branch of small capacity liquefying plants. Supporting funds had come from Ile de France province (« Sésame »), RTRA « Triangle de la Physique », CNRS and Université Paris-Sud, and the final balance was reached by adding a contribution from LPS and from the teams involved in low temperature physics from their own budgets. The installation was completed in october 2010 and the liquefier reached its normal pace at the beginning of 2011.

 

plant’s scheme (Air Liquide’s document)

 

With a liquefying capacity of 15 l/hr, it features a small liquefying plant especially well suited to the He consumption of LPS (30 000 l/an) plus the « Optics and materials for information science” LAC team and the « Bolometers » CSNSM team of the Orsay faculty.

 

The helium which is used to cool the experiments is recovered and piped back to a gas bag. The Helium is then dried, purified, liquefied and stored in a 1000 l storage vessel. After transferring it to a mobile Dewar, the helium is again available to cool down new experiments. The loop is looped !

 

The heart of the scope, the « cold box » is based on a two stages Joule-Thomson expansion (cycle Claude cycle) - go back to your classical thermodynamics textbooks !- through two cryogenic 1.5 kW and 300 W turbines, heat plate exchangers and an internal purifier.
 

Turbine : the heart of liquefier

 

The internal LPS Cryogenics and Hardware services achieved the leak tests and the renovation of the recovery lines, with a special care for the compressor station and the storage high pressure vessels. Of course, the losses have to be minimized…which is the daily road map for technical and scientific users’ teams.

 

The helium liquefier and the project team.

 

No doubt that the teams « meso + nano + correlations » will be able to fulfill their low-temperature cryogenic programs and achieve their scientific plans in a wealth of different areas such as superconductivity, graphene, nanotubes, fullerenes, molecular conductors and spin liquids. One can anticipate that this facility might attract new teams which aim at low-T physics !