Design and Development of a Liquid Helium Pump

Pumping liquid helium fram big tank to smaller dewar

The development of a new liquid helium pump is the purpose of a joint R&D project between ScIDre, the Bitzer-Chair of Refrigeration, Cryogenics and Compressor Technology of the TU Dresden and the Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research Dresden (IFW Dresden). The project has started in summer 2015. It will last for 2.5 years and it is financially supported by the program Zentrales Innovationsprogramm Mittelstand (ZIM) of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs.

Our aim is to design a pump which is capable of transferring liquid helium (LHe) under ambient pressure conditions, e. g. from a stationary storage vessel into a mobile dewar at a LHe decant station. Up to now, the most common LHe filling process uses a slight overpressure in order to transfer LHe into mobile dewars. Due to the partial evaporation of LHe transfer losses of up to 20 % occur. Thus generated helium gas has to be reliquefied, demanding a huge amount of electrical energy. Pumping LHe under ambient pressure diminishes these evaporation losses considerably. Another benefit of a LHe pump is its high transfer rate compared to a pressure-induced filling, which is often the bottleneck of the whole LHe supply.

We intend to use frictionless superconducting magnetic bearings which enable highest rotational speed and self-stabilizing, stiff positioning by superconducting magnetic levitation without heat dissipation. In order to maximize the pump efficiency, we plan to perform extensive hydrodynamic calculations to develop optimized pump wheel and flow channel geometries. State-of-the-art sensor and controlling technologies will ensure stable and efficient operation of the pump.

Some inspiration for our project is taken from the LHe pump which was designed in the 1980s at the Walther-Meissner-Institute in Garching. Although containing many ingenious details, this pump never achieved widespread distribution due to its costly components and partly outdated technology. We are sure to create a worthy successor to this pioneering device.

The new LHe pump will become available approximately early 2018. If you would like to have more information about the development project in general or any particular pump specifications, please contact us.



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