Gas gap heat switch for a cryogen-free magnet system

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Cryogen-free superconducting magnet systems (CFMS) have become popular over the last two decades for the simple reason that the use of liquid helium is rather cumbersome and that helium is a scarce resource. Some available CFMS use a mechanical cryocooler as the magnet's cold source. However, the variable temperature insert (VTI) for some existing CFMS are not strictly cryogen-free as they are still based on helium gas circulation through the sample space. We designed a prototype of a gas gap heat switch (GGHS) that allows a thermal management of a completely cryogen-free magnet system, with no helium losses. The idea relies on a parallel cooling path to a variable temperature insert (VTI) of a magnetic properties measurement system under development at Inter-University Accelerator Centre. A Gifford-McMahon cryocooler (1.5 W @ 4.2 K) would serve primarily as the cold source of the superconducting magnet, dedicating 1 W to this cooling, under quite conservative safety factors. The remaining cooling power (0.5 W) is to be diverted towards a VTI through a controlled GGHS that was designed and built with a 80 μm gap width. The built GGHS thermal performance was measured at 4 K, using helium as the exchange gas, and its conductance is compared both with a previously developed analytical model and a finite element method. Lessons learned lead to a new and more functional prototype yet to be reported.

Original languageEnglish
Article number012144
JournalIOP Conference Series: Materials Science and Engineering
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 18 Dec 2015
Event2015 Joint Cryogenic Engineering and International Cryogenic Materials Conferences, CEC/ICMC 2015 - Tucson, United States
Duration: 28 Jun 20152 Jul 2015


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