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Research Case Studies

Physics Department, Leiden University

Leiden, Netherlands

Quantum Design Helium Recycling Case Study:  Leiden University Physics Department

"The small liquefiers are easy to use and can deliver 500-600 liters per week to satisfy our institution's needs."

The Physics Department at Leiden University uses both a Quantum Design Physical Property Measurement System (PPMS) and a Quantum Design Magnetic Property Measurement System (MPMS), in addition to a scanning tunneling microscope (STM) and SQUIDs to carry out their measurements. Helium transfers are performed five times a week to keep all of their instruments cold, and a High Pressure Recycling System employing five ATLs and three ATPs recycles both the static and transfer helium boil off.

The users appreciate the ease of use and automation of the system, which allows them to focus on their measurements rather than their helium supply. They were surprised and happy to learn that when the ATL is full, extremely efficient transfers can be performed by allowing the ATL to automatically cool the liquid helium below the boiling point.

Initially, a single ATL160 and ATP30 were installed as a proof-of-concept. These worked so well that the system was quickly scaled up to provide helium to the entire department. Now they are enjoying significant cost savings on their helium budget and they no longer worry about the availability of helium deliveries.

QD Physical Property Measurement System (PPMS), QD Magnetic Property Measurement System (MPMS), Scanning Tunneling Microscope (STM), and SQUIDs
Helium Use:
500-600 liters / week
Helium Recovery Equipment:
Five (5) ATL160s, three (3) ATP30s, one Recovery Controller, one PPMS Recovery Kit, and one MPMS Recovery Kit

Servicios Científico-Técnicos, University of Oviedo

Oviedo, Spain

Quantum Design Helium Recycling Case Study:  Servicios Científico-Técnicos, University of Oviedo

"We were most surprised by the high level of Helium recovery made possible by the ATL system."

The Scientific–Technical Services Department (Servicios Científico-Técnicos) at the University of Oviedo uses a Quantum Design Physical Properties Measurement System (PPMS) with a 14 tesla superconducting magnet to carry out their magnetic measurements. A 14 tesla magnet requires greater quantities of liquid helium to keep cold than a standard magnet and releases high levels of liquid helium boil off when ramping the magnet. The department had a strong interest in reducing helium costs and securing their supply of liquid helium. Helium transfers were conducted twice a week and amounted to roughly 75 liters of liquid helium needed per week.

Quantum Design installed an ATL160 along with a Medium Pressure Recycling System to capture and store both helium gas that would otherwise be lost through normal operation and helium gas which boils off during transfers. A specially-designed PPMS Recovery Kit now allows the department to recycle both the boil off from the dewar and the helium pumped through the annulus of the PPMS. Transfer boil off gas is automatically captured from the dewar without the need to manually open or close any valves.

With their new ATL system, the users at this facility have expressed their happiness with the high levels of helium recovery possible using the recovery kit and medium pressure recycling system. The liquefying power of the ATL160, along with the overall flexibility and user-friendliness of the system, has alleviated their helium concerns and provided a solution which allows them to continue their magnetic measurements free from worries of cost and availability of helium.

QD Physical Property Measurement System (PPMS 14T)
Helium Use:
75 liters / week
Helium Recovery Equipment:
ATL160, Medium Pressure Hub, PPMS Recovery Kit

Quantum Design Test Facility

San Diego, California, USA

Quantum Design Advanced Technology Helium Recycling Case Study:  Quantum Design test facility

"The ATL helium recycling system provides a reliable source of contamination-free helium for the ever-changing needs of our test facility."

Quantum Design manufactures and tests all of its cryogenic instruments in its San Diego facility. In addition to ATL helium recycling products, Quantum Design also designs and manufactures material property measurement systems, which can require large amounts of liquid helium or high-purity gaseous helium. The ATL helium recycling system Quantum Design uses in its test facility provides both a test-bed for helium recycling equipment, plus liquid helium and high-purity helium gas for testing our other products.

The helium recycling system at the Quantum Design test facility is a great example of how this modular technology can be scaled up to accommodate a large facility or campus. The recycling system uses over a 1/4 mile of plumbing to recover helium boiloff and transfer flash from cryostats, as well as supplying purified helium gas to the test floor. Recovered gas is first captured in two gas bags, then stored in cylinders before being purified by four to six ATP30s. Hydrogen is then removed before the gas is supplied to the building. Originally, we discovered that systems would frequently plug even with low levels of hydrogen. Our new Hydrogen Detection system has eliminated these impedance blockages. The helium gas plumbed throughout the building feeds 5-8 ATLs and up to fifteen cryogen-free systems. The ATLs average 1000 liters per week, supporting up to 10 wet systems at a time, including frequent transfers and cool-downs.

The ATL recycling system has provided a reliable source of helium, eliminating fears of short helium deliveries or less pure helium which used to plug the instruments. The pure helium gas plumbed throughout the building has also eliminated the worry of helium cylinders running out and significantly reduced the labor needed to monitor and exchange bottles.

Many PPMS, MPMS3, VersaLab and DynaCool systems
Helium Use:
1000 liters / week
Helium Recovery Equipment:
ATL160s, ATPs, High Pressure Recovery System, PPMS and MPMS3 Recovery Kits

Research FAQs

How do I know which components I need to recycle helium from my cryostats?

Our sales associates are experts in determining the ideal recycling system for your instruments based on helium and transfer needs, space constraints, and the instruments to be connected. All of these details will be explained clearly in the Planning Stage of discussions. In cases where there might be facility requirements for installation, our trained staff can work directly with you and your facilities team to provide all necessary information for optimal deployment.

Does Quantum Design offer a recovery kit for my instrument?

Quantum Design offers recovery kits for all Quantum Design instruments and offers generic recovery kits which can be adapted to most instruments. With our extensive experience recovering from many instruments, we can consult on how to best connect your instrument to an ATL helium recycling system. Recovery kits for specific instruments will be installed by our technicians at time of installation.

Will helium recycling affect my measurements?

Helium recycling should have zero effect on your measurements. The pressure in the recovery piping is typically constant within 30 millibars. Systems especially sensitive to pressure changes should have a Back Pressure Controller (BPC) installed which will automatically compensate for these slight pressure changes and maintain the instrument's pressure with fluctuations less than 3 millibars. When planning your system with Quantum Design we will work to locate recovery equipment sufficiently far from any vibrationally sensitive equipment.

How difficult is it to operate and maintain a helium recycling system?

All Quantum Design helium recycling systems are designed to be operated by any user with little to no previous experience in cryogenics. Touchscreen interfaces and intuitive menus make the equipment easy to learn. At the time of installation, a Quantum Design Technician will instruct users on the operation of the equipment. Resources and documentation are available to users on the Pharos online database. Follow-up training can be scheduled for new users.

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