Visualizing density changes with a DSLR Camera
“Tell me what this image is.” I peered closer at the amazing image Jake was showing me. “Displacement?” I guessed nervously, glancing furtively at the inquisitor. “Not quite. Density,” Jake said. This was my interview, to which I had been 15 minutes late and in which I was already sweating profusely. I was in the deep end. Here is the image he showed me:
I was hired to the HYPER Lab despite my blunder, and worked on the Core Team (previously the General Team). By the time this project opportunity surfaced, nearly 6 months had passed since my interview, and the concept of Schlieren … » More …Read Story
Is it parahydrogen or para-hydrogen?
Here’s a paradox of paramount importance: which paradigm is right — parahydrogen or para-hydrogen?
Should a hyphen (-) be used to describe this paranormal spin-isomer of hydrogen with ‘parallel’ nuclear spins?
In this post I’ll review the history of the name, present style guides for the use of a hyphen, and risk ripping the field apart in a debate analogous to the Oxford Comma.
“Astonishing Successes” and “Bitter Disappointment” the history of hydrogen’s specific heat
The discovery of hydrogen’s para- and ortho- nuclear spin isomers was the triumph of Werner Heisenberg’s new quantum theory. So much so that the Nobel Prize committee specifically cited this … » More …Read Story
How to make cryogenic Multi-Layer Insulation (MLI) shields
The Multi-Layer Insulation (MLI) Shield (aka thermal radiation blanket) is very important in cryogenic systems. MLI shields insulate components from thermal energy transferred via light on rockets, satellites, and cryogenic experiments. The shield consists of 10s of alternating layers of polymer mesh and reflective mylar (metalized nylon) film. To understand how MLI blankets work, consider an equation approximating the resistance to radiative heat transfer:
R_rad= 1/(A_s σϵ4(T_s^2+T_sur^2)(T_s^2+T_sur))
where As = radiating surface area, σ = Stefan-Boltzmann constant, ϵ= emissivity, Ts = the absolute surface temperature, Tsur = absolute surroundings temperature. Or more generally: q” = σϵ(T_sur^4-T_s^4) assuming the surface is at lower temperature … » More …Read Story
Orbital TIG Welding – How HYPER strives for the best welds!
Sealing anything at cryogenic temperatures requires extremely tight tolerances. If tight tolerances are not considered, holes may open at the source of the seal, allowing cold leaks to occur as referenced in this past post. In today’s How To, we’re going to discuss how to weld tubes together utilizing orbital TIG welding. Orbital welding has given the lab an advantage in that all our welds minimize human error and the whole operation is computer automated. The system being used is Swagelok’s M200 orbital welding system, which was donated to our lab through the Boeing Cybergrant program. The procedure is as follows:
… » More …Read Story
Cryogenic Hydrogen Embrittlement
There is a reason the HYPER lab is the only academic research lab in the US focused on cryogenic hydrogen: it’s hard.
Recall that hydrogen:
has the largest flammability limits of any gas (4-94% in air by volume).Read Story
has a very low energy barrier for combustion in air (a grain of sand in a jet has enough kinetic energy to ignite).
has the highest combustion energy of any fuel by mass (119.96 MJ/kg).
has one of the lowest boiling points of any fluid (boils near -421°F), highest thermal conductivities, and the highest latent heat (energy required to boil the fluid) per … » More …
Testimony to the WA Senate
I had the wonderful opportunity to present to the WA Senate Transportation sub committee on hydrogen technologies today. The link below includes a ~20 minute video that is a nice primer to what we do and why:
The magic of magnetizing air
One of the HYPER lab’s favorite demonstrations for visitors is magnetizing air — yes, the stuff you’re breathing can be magnetized. We play around before these demos and come up with amazing ideas, and we’ve got patent-pending technology to prove it.
Here’s what you’ll need to do this:
Support a small metal container over a surface. In the picture above we’re using a thin-walled stainless steel beaker and a test-tube stand.Read Story
Fill the metal container with liquid nitrogen (make sure you’re following all necessary safety precautions before handling liquid nitrogen).
Because the normal boiling point temperature of liquid nitrogen (~77 K) is … » More …
The Sounds of Hydrogen
Hydrogen is the simplest atom or molecule; comprising 75% of the known mass of the universe. No atom or molecule has a more fundamental role. So to compliment our post on the Colors of Hydrogen we asked ourselves, what does hydrogen sound like? More specifically, can we develop a fundamental scale of hydrogen tones? And if we’re lucky, this scale will give us a new feel for the complex physical interactions of hydrogen in the universe.
Traditional musical scales are built on ratios. For example, an octave between notes has a ratio of 2:1 for the frequency. At 440 Hz, the pitch produced is … » More …Read Story
Common Cryogenic Copper Confusions
I made these mistakes when I was learning. Just about every student in my lab has made them too. It’s all too common to have cryogenic copper confusion. It ends here.
The root of the confusion lies in the heat transfer promised land, as illustrated by the below chart of thermal conductivity of copper at cryogenic temperatures. An even better comparison than this chart is in Jack Ekin’s FANTASTIC book that is absolutely required reading for my lab: “Experimental Techniques for Low Temperature Measurement” Jack is so wonderful he’s even posted the figures openly available for people to access on-line and his thermal conductivity … » More …Read Story
The $10B per year challenge facing Washington State
If you could solve one problem affecting the lives of everyone in the Pacific Northwest, what would it be?
What would you be willing to give up to solve it?
WSU is working to solve many Grand Challenges. The one I’m telling you about today is a $10B per year problem that’s making us sick — the importing and use of fossil fuels in Washington State.
So here is my Grand Challenge:
Sustaining the Pacific Northwest via locally produced, clean, fuel.
More specifically, reducing the importation of carbon-based fossil fuels into Washington State to … » More …Read Story