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Helium Liquefier

May 31, 2014

The construction of a facility to liquefy helium has started in the back of the Physics building at Pitt. Liquid helium is the blood of most cryogenic experiments, it becomes liquid at 4.2 degrees Kelvin (which is cold) and simply immersing your experiment into this liquid gives you this low temperature.

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So far the project literally only scratched the surface, in a short while a new space will be added to host this helium equipment. Pitt is very much forward-looking with this new construction. The prices of helium gas have been going up, and combined with liquefaction costs they more and more often make low temperature experiments simply unaffordable. What makes our liquefier cost-effective is that it comes with a recovery system: helium that boils off in the labs around campus will be pumped back to the liquefier rather than lost into atmosphere. Our lab was already constructed with recovery plumbing, so we will be able to use local organic liquid helium from a friendly liquefactor down the street.

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