Cryogen free cold source management
Cryogen-free superconducting magnet (CFMS) systems have become popular during the last two decades for the simple reason that with the use of liquid helium is rather cumbersome and is a scarce resource. Some available CFMS uses a mechanical cryocooler as cold source of the superconductor magnet. However, the cooling of the sample holder is still made through an open circuit of helium. A thermal management of a completely cryogen-free system is possible to be implemented by using a controlled gas gap heat switch (GGHS) between the cryocooler and the variable temperature insert (VTI). This way it would eliminate the helium open circuit. Heat switches are devices that allow to toggle between two distinct thermal states (ON and OFF state). Several cryogenic applications need good thermal contact and a good thermal insulation at different stages of operation. A versatile GGHS was designed and built with a 100 mm gap and tested with helium as exchange gas. An analytic thermal model was developed and a good agreement with the experimental data was obtained. The device was tested on a crycooler at 4 to 80 K ranges. A 285 mW/K thermal conductance was measured at ON state and 0.09 mW/K at OFF. 3000 ON/OFF thermal conductance ratio was obtained at 4 K with helium.
Maria Isabel Simões Catarino