In 1974, Barber-Nichols Inc. (BNI) designed and built its first Cryogenic Pump for the National Bureau of Standards (now the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The liquid helium pump exceeded NIST's expectations and since that time BNI's reputation as an international manufacturer of custom cryogenic circulators, compressors, and pumps has flourished. Barber-Nichols' cryogenic hardware is hermetically sealed and minimizes heat leak which are both crucial for cryogenic applications.
BNI's Cryogenic Blowers, Circulators, Compressors, & Pumps Are Being Used For:
- The Circulation of Hot & Cold Nitrogen Gas (422 K [+300 °F] & 89 K [-300 °F]) in Climatic (Satellite) Test Chambers.
- The Transfer of LNG (111 K [-260 °F]) for Public Transportation Applications.
- The Circulation of Argon (87 K [-303 °F]) for Particle Research.
- The Circulation of Nitrogen (77 K [-321 °F]) for the Cooling of High Temperature Superconducting Magnets & Synchrotron Beamline Crystals.
- The Densification & Transfer of Liquid Rocket Engine Propellants (i.e. Liquid Oxygen (80 K [-316 °F]) & Liquid Hydrogen (14.5 K [-434 °F]).
- The Circulation of Supercritical Helium (4.2 K [-452 °F]) for the Cooling of Superconducting Magnets.
- The Circulation of Liquid Neon, Krypton, & Xenon.
Barber-Nichols' cryogenic pumps are highly beneficial for four reasons. First, it is extremely difficult, and sometimes impossible, to prevent mechanical seals from leaking in a cryogenic environment. Therefore, BNI's hermetically designed pumps completely eliminate mechanical seals and thereby eliminate this problem. Second, thin walled pump shafts, thin walled shaft housings, and anti-convection/radiation heat shields all work together to minimize conductive and convective motor heat leaking into the cryogenic fluid. Third, Barber-Nichols' extensive experience with unique, high-speed bearings allows it to design pumps that can operate at suitably high speeds for long periods of time between scheduled maintenance. Operating a pump at a higher speed increases the pump's hydraulic efficiency further minimizing the heating of the process fluid. Finally, BNI pioneered the development of cryogenic pumps with vacuum housings. This allows maintenance personnel to remove the pump from a cryostat without breaking the cold box vacuum.
Barber-Nichols recently designed and built one of the world's largest liquid helium pumps. Several of these pumps cool superconducting magnets in CERN's ATLAS Detector. Each pump circulates approximately 1.2 kg (2.6 lbs) of liquid helium per second at 4.5 K. The ATLAS Detector came to fruition through the collaboration of 1,800 people from 34 countries and it will help physicists more accurately understand the nature of matter and the forces that shape the universe.
|Barber-Nichols Model BNHeP-20-000 Liquid Helium Pump
in CERN's ATLAS Detector
BNI designed and manufactured a supercritical hydrogen circulator for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory's (ORNL) Spallation Neutron Source (SNS). The SNS produces high-intensity neutron beams that are used to investigate how materials are assembled at the subatomic level. The SNS utilizes a hydrogen loop system to cool the neutrons; it begins operation at room temperature and then cools down to 17 K (-429 °F). A Variable Frequency Drive was used because the circulator's speed adjusts inversely proportional to the fluid density. It begins operation at 60,000 rpm and gradually slows down to 15,000 rpm when the SNS reaches its operating temperature. Because high reliability and a long life were paramount on ORNL's list of requirements, Barber-Nichols used friction-free magnetic bearings for this project.
BNI is the world's leading supplier of high-speed nitrogen gas circulators used in satellite test chambers. Barber-Nichols' blowers circulate nitrogen gas between (422 K [+300 °F] and 89 K [-300 °F]) for months at a time so satellite electronics can be tested properly prior to launch.
Barber-Nichols Model BNCP-23-000 Nitrogen Gas