Liquid Helium is used in our NMR magnets to keep them cool and maintain a strong magnetic field. However, Helium is entirely a nonrenewable byproduct from certain mining operations and as it boils off from the magnets, it quickly escapes and out of the Earth’s atmosphere. With a global helium shortage at a high, we wanted to be able to reduce our environmental impact.
On May 13th, 2021, Quantum Technology Corp. (Thanks Joey Heider!) completed the installation of their All-Metal Helium Recovery and Liquification System. The closed-loop can continuously recover the boil-off gas from the NMR magnets and the fully piped configuration reduces the sources of contamination allowing for high purity ( > 99.99%) liquid helium. The automatic recovery compressor can distribute the helium gas to storage or the liquefier when needed. This recovery system will reduce our cryogen consumption of our 4 NMR magnets in Brown 353A by 95-99% per year, lowering our yearly maintenance costs.
The acquisition of the helium recovery system would not be possible without the NIH supplemental funding (R01GM117118) granted to Prof. Nate Traaseth.