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

How to Build a Cryogenic Plumbing Manifold

Plumbing manifolds on a cryogenic system are just as essential for functionality as proper electrical wiring from a simple light switch to an overhead light. Just like a wire sends current from point A to point B, a plumbing manifold can send hydrogen, helium, nitrogen, and other gasses from point A to B. The number of complex functions performed by plumbing manifolds leads to complexity that approaches integrated circuit boards. However, much less information, not to mention engineering standards, are available on how to reliably construct custom plumbing manifolds for research purposes. This post overviews the systems we have developed at HYPER for academic research … » More …

Mounting a Strain Gauge to Composite Surfaces Utilizing High-Performance Epoxy Resins

If I learned anything from my internship with Unitech Composites, it is that surface preparation is essential in all operations of composite layup and assembly. This is true for bonding as well. Surface preparations, although tedious and seemingly unimportant, are key in establishing properties that their subsequent specifications claim. To ensure that an epoxy resin can perform at a specified temperature range for a long time, adherence to the following procedure is required.

This procedure is specifically written for the application of Vishay’s M-bond 43-B, 600, and 610 adhesives in bonding strain gauges to a composite surface. These adhesive systems are a product of Vishay … » More …

You had an idea! Now what?

It’s awesome when it happens. A new concept or idea for something to solve a problem for yourself or someone else just popped into your head (more on that here). For me the hair stands up on my neck and I want to run to the nearest person and tell them the idea and why it’s important. Evidently I have a crazy look on my face when this happens because it’s scared people before. Here’s the deal — excitement like this is contagious, and unless you’re careful to get your ducks in a row, it could lead to false hope/promises and unmet expectations.

What … » More …

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 …

How to Procure Parts Easily and Efficiently – The HYPER Way

Have you ever had a $45,000 piece of equipment show up in your facility, and thought: “I don’t remember what this is for…”? Well, I had this exact thing happen to me. I was fortunate in that the 900 pounds of equipment sitting in the shipping bay was a simple mix-up with the company delivering our equipment. Crisis averted! However, in many instances mistakes like this can lead to the loss of funds, and sometimes even jobs. The responsibility often falls to project managers to have a crystal-clear picture of the flow of parts and equipment coming in for their systems.

How to make cryogenic Multi-Layer Insulation (MLI) shields

MLI Basics

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. For a 2.5cm (1″) thick blanket at 1×10^-4 torr vacuum level, equivalent R values of ~1440 can be obtained (Technifab). Typical insulation of a building wall is in the equivalent R of 10-60 ( It’s no wonder engineers in the Linde Devision of Union Carbide named it “superinsulation” in the 1950s (McIntosh). To understand how … » More …

Getting Back to Work…At Work (The HYPER Guide to Returning to the Lab Safely)

A new semester has begun, and research is kicking into high gear…but we are not operating under normal conditions. The pandemic has laid new challenges at our feet which has completely changed how we approach even the simplest of tasks. It is important, now more than ever, to band together as a lab community and apply HYPER ethics to tackle these obstacles.

As quarantine restrictions loosen in our state and we can begin returning to work, we have created a plan for returning to work that will help us to stay on track with our research goals while maintaining high safety standards to prevent the … » More …

How we made (and remade) the HYPER community website

It took 10 years for me to start calling the HYPER laboratory a community. In one month we’ll have had a website for six of those ten years. In many ways those first six years were much like the six year tenure process we follow as faculty. While we’ve continually added content (>300 posts and >75 pages) within our core themes of Research, Teaching, and Service, we’ve never really sat back and thought about how to make the site truly great. This post tells the story of how the site evolved, from starting as one of the ‘guinea pig’ sites my neighbor friends (Steve Locker … » More …

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:


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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 …