Applications

Noble gases - liquid neon, liquid argon, liquid xenon, liquid krypton


Noble gases are gases with specific characteristics and therefore often used for specific industrial processes such as lighting and welding, for laser equipment, diving gear, etc. Most of these gases are found in low concentrations in ambient air (neon, argon, krypton and xenon). Helium is filtered from natural gas wells, mostly in the USA and Algeria. Radon is usually isolated from the radioactive decay of dissolved radium compounds. The fact that these gases are not present in abundant quantities and are well sought after make them relatively expensive compared to other gasses as nitrogen, oxygen, etc. 

One of the special properties, though, of some of these special gases are their ultra low liquefaction temperatures. Helium only liquefies at a temperature of 4K while a gas like neon becomes a liquid at 27K and only a few degrees lower, at 24K, it even becomes a solid.

Daily use of neon and argon

Especially these low boiling/evaporation temperatures make some of these gases the perfect medium to cool various specific processes such as cooling of HTS motor rotors, Fault Current Limiters. For such applications liquid neon is the perfect cryogenic fluid having large cooling capacity for use in High Temperature Superconductivity at low pressures of 1 bar or less. However, neon is rare and hence expensive. Should a cooling device be refilled with liquid neon at the same rate as it is evaporated, any experiment would become impossible to be conducted due to economical and logistic difficulties.

The rarity, price and the ultra low liquefaction temperature of helium are the reasons that liquid helium is almost exclusively used in scientific experiments and cooling of superconducting magnets for MRI.

The Stirling cryogenerators however are perfectly suited for the reliquefaction of rare gases that were evaporated in a process. Only a minimal opening in the cryostat is required through which the gas flows out and the liquid gas can flow back into the cryostat . The use of an internal automatic heater prevents freezing of the gas in critical situations. During maintenanc of the cryogenarator the cryostat can easily be isolated without disturbing the cold gas inert atmosphere in the cryostat. This saves precious time otherwise needed for removal of the gas in the cryostat and energy to re-liquefy the same. Should need be, Stirling systems can be installed several tens of meters away from the application thus effectively minimizing the possible influence of vibration to the experiment.

The SPC-1T and SPC-4T  are some of Stirling’s standard cooling set-ups for these “ultra low temperature” gases. The SPC-1 and SPC-4 systems can also be used for the (re)-liquefaction of “higher temperature” gases as nitrogen (77K), argon (87K), krypton (119K), xenon (165K) etc. For large capacities, fully engineered and customized solutions are available at Stirling Cryogenics.

Helium cooled superconduction magnet

Products

For use in applications as described the following Stirling Cryogenics products may be considered:

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