Skip to main content Skip to navigation
Hydrogen Properties for Energy Research (HYPER) Laboratory Cool. Fuel.

The HYPER lab tube fitting guide

This post summarizes the use of Swagelok® Tube Fittings, which are used extensively in the HYPER lab. If you’re already familiar with tube fittings, you may want to skip to the best practices at the bottom. Most of this guide is pulled directly from “An Installer’s Pocket Guide for Swagelok® Tube Fittings.” If you haven’t read this already, you should! We have several physical copies around the lab.

 

What is a tube fitting?

Swagelok® Tube Fittings are also referred … » More …

Our near-miss hydrogen vent in ETRL 221

 

Yes, rumors about a hydrogen bomb in ETRL are exaggerated.

On August 2nd around 10:00 am, the HYPER lab had an uncontrolled hydrogen vent into ETRL 221. There was no damage to equipment or personnel, leaving the event classified in accordance with U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) criteria as a “near-miss”. While no critical flaws were identified with the experiment design or procedures for handling the event, the subsequent expert review by the Hydrogen Safety Panel has valuable lessons learned for the WSU and cryogenic hydrogen research communities.
Event Timeline
Around 9:00 AM — A bird flew into a sub-station and shut down power … » More …

Saving money (and time!) with HYPER’s wiring system – Vacuum Feedthroughs

Due to the very cold nature of our work, we find ourselves needing to design (and redesign) vacuum chambers on a regular basis. In order to do useful research, this usually means trying to pass electrical signals through a high vacuum seal, which as you may expect, takes time and money. However, we’ve come up with a few tricks to reduce our time and dollar expenditures.

First, we reduce the cost of our vacuum feedthrough components. An example of a prebuilt solution is $551 for 7 connection pins, but we can build a 26 pin passthrough for around $120. To reduce the … » More …

Finding Cryogenic Material Propeties

Many people don’t consider from day to day how we know properties of any given material for use in design. It seems to be common knowledge that water freezes at 0°C, and it’s easy enough to look up thermal conductivities or heat capacity of common metals, gasses, and building materials. What happens, however, when your operating conditions are hundreds of degrees below room temperature? You can’t assume the same, easily found values anymore – you have to find someone who has taken the measurements at those extreme temperatures. So where do you go? Here’s a list of some good options we’ve used in the past … » More …

Cryogenic Seals using Indium

Finding a way to seal small, mobile molecules such as hydrogen and helium at cryogenic temperatures can be quite difficult. Most common seals break down at such cold temperatures, and even a tiny leak path can be catastrophic when working with flammable gasses and temperatures that can freeze the oxygen right out of the air. Luckily, we have wonder element 49: Indium. High purity indium has a lower melting point, and hardness than lead, making it malleable enough to be an effective sealing material. In addition, at high purities, indium readily pressure welds to itself, and bonds to other metals, glass, and ceramics.

In the … » More …

Cleaning Helium Compressors

The helium compressor that drives a cryocooler has to effectively reject the heat it’s removing from the helium stream to prevent itself from overheating, and keep the cryocooler cooling efficiently. In most cases, this means running a heat exchanger with a cooled water loop to keep everything cool. This can be very effective when you’re running high purity, clean water through the heat exchanger, but dirty, rusty, or impure water can reduce performance and foul the heat exchanger tubes. In the lab, we use a cooling loop independent from the building water paired with a water filter to help keep water as clean as possible … » More …

The potential for hydrogen fueled cars in Washington State

This article was originally drafted as an Op-ed submission for the Seattle Times and included input from many people at WSU. Thank you to all of them for the help:

According to the Washington State Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory, gasoline fueled cars are by far the largest polluter of carbon dioxide in the state of Washington, accounting for one out of every four molecules emitted. If our state is going to reduce carbon emissions, we’re going to need many zero-emission vehicles– and soon.

Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) or hydrogen Fuel-Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs) are the most common zero-emission vehicles. Washington state is making excellent strides … » More …

A proposal for large scale hydrogen liquefaction in the Pacific Northwest

Two years ago I received seed funding from the WSU Energy Systems Innovation Center (ESIC) to investigate the potential for large scale hydrogen liquefaction in the Pacific Northwest. Since then I’ve had numerous conversations with diverse stakeholders including existing liquid hydrogen producers, program managers in the Department of Energy, Bonneville Power Administration, wind farm operators, chlor-alkali plant operators, bio-mass refiners, bio-fuel producers, and regional fuel cell companies. After two years of considering all of the diverse stakeholders for a system of this size and complexity, an awesome concept for our region has finally emerged. I’ll present this in the following parts: 1) existing North America … » More …

The potential of the Hydrogen Fueled Farm

As you likely know, Whitman County (the home of WSU-Pullman) is the Saudi Arabia of wheat. We’ve produced more wheat than any other county in the United States every year since 1978. Of course it helps that we have a land mass equivalent to the state of Delaware and average just 6 residents per square mile.

What you may not know is the considerable potential for hydrogen to fuel these farms. This is a topic we’ll dive into considerable more detail over the coming years. Let’s overview the pieces for now:

Farmers are incredibly familiar with the … » More …

Forget space elevators, we need a space pipeline!

A few years ago I attended a seminar on using extremely long carbon nanotubes for a space elevator. And so I started thinking…

Here’s the wiki for the space elevator concept. Here’s a graphic:

To be clear, space elevators may be harder than controlled thermonuclear fusion to achieve (that’s at least 50 years out). Although carbon nanotubes may have the strength to make it possible, the very best we can do could be ~1m in length. Compare that to the image above and you see how far we have to go. Not to mention running an … » More …