Monday, February 08, 2010

Liquid Hydrogen at JMU

In the process of preparing high purity Hydrogen Deuteride (HD) for the production of frozen spin-polarized targets for the study of the nucleon (protons and neutrons), the gas is liquified and distilled in a unique low temperature distillery.

What you see in the photo above is a webcam view of the liquid hydrogen in the distillery. The still is equipped with narrow windows on either side for viewing the liquid. The webcam comes with with a fixed focus lens so an additional lens is added and held at the right distance with a cardboard tube...hence the circular vignette. This permits a close focus on the boiling liquid. On either side of the window is a frame held in place with bolts. The liquid is seen boiling away between the middle two pairs of bolts.

The top of the distillation column is held at 17K at the moment and the bottom of the still, near where this photo is taken is near 25K. The liquid is being caused to boil by the application of heat by passing a current through a resistor on the bottom of the still. The heater power is set at about 1 W. Liquid hydrogen appears to have a viscosity close to that of water and is colorless.

Just not something you see every day.