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Hydrogen Properties for Energy Research (HYPER) Laboratory Cool. Fuel.

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.
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 …

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 …

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 …

Titan seas recreated in HYPER lab

HYPER lab member Ian Richardson recently finished recreating the methane-ethane-nitrogen seas on Saturn’s moon Titan. Titan, the second largest moon in the solar system, is the only other body besides Earth known to have liquid seas or oceans on it’s surface. For scale, Titan is about half the diameter of Earth — Titanic! A recent picture from Cassini and corresponding article from highlight the chances for new forms of life existing on Titan.

Ian worked with Jason Hartwig at NASA-Glenn as part of his NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship to create the conditions necessary to … » More …

Cryo-cycling in place – Styrofoam cups and Silly Putty to the rescue!

In this past post, we discussed using cryo-cycling  to identify and fix possible cold leaks before installing equipment in the cryostat. This prevents a lot of problems before they can happen, often saving days of cool-down and warm-up if a test has to be called off. What happens, however, when the leak opens up cold? Your experiment is happily running along at cryogenic temperatures and, all of a sudden, that last temperature cycle proves too much. A crack is allowed to widen through an epoxy joint until you have a little leak and the test has to be called off. When you warm up, … » More …

So just how dangerous is hydrogen fuel?

When I tell people I work on hydrogen fuel, they immediately say something very wrong like, “Are you worried about a mushroom cloud over your lab?” — Mushroom clouds are from a nuclear bomb detonation, and I don’t plan on starting thermonuclear fusion anytime soon in my lab, and if I did, it might save the planet. The other statement I often get is, “Wow, don’t want another Hindenberg!” Again, very wrong. Detailed studies from NASA and others have shown that … » More …

A response to “Toyota vs. Tesla: Can Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles Compete with Electric Vehicles?”

Tony Seba, a Stanford University lecturer and renewable energy entrepreneur, is working hard as an advocate for clean and renewable solar power and battery electric vehicles. This is a cause we need many people working hard towards. However, as is usually the case, problems arise not with what someone wants, but how they go about it. In one of his recent popular posts and presentations “Toyota versus Tesla: Can Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles Compete with Electric Vehicles?” Tony presents six reasons that hydrogen cannot compete with electric vehicles. We’re going to address these one by one:

1.Hydrogen is not an energy source

Entirely true. Neither is electricity. … » More …