Hydraulically Operated Two-Phase Helium Expansion Engine

  • R. W. Johnson
  • S. C. Collins
  • J. L. SmithJr.
Part of the Advances in Cryogenic Engineering book series (ACRE, volume 16)


Traditional helium refrigerators and liquefiers have generally contained two or three stages of refrigeration; namely, liquid-nitrogen precooling, one or two reciprocating expansion engines or turbine expanders, followed by a Joule-Thomson (JT) valve. In order to liquefy helium, the JT exchanger has to be precooled well below the inversion temperature, i.e. 30°K [1]. For useful yields of liquid—10% or more of the JT stream—the gas has to be cooled to at least 15°K. Use of an expansion engine rather than a JT valve increases the maximum precooling temperature which can be used for the liquefaction of helium. For example, a helium gas stream entering a JT heat exchanger at 40° K and expanding through an engine of 90% efficiency can provide a liquid yield of 10%.


Equivalent Ideal Diagram Liquid Helium Hydraulic Cylinder Check Valve Needle Valve 
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  1. 1.
    R. H. Kropschot, B. W. Birmingham, and D. B. Mann, Technology of Liquid Helium, NBS Monograph 111 (Oct. 1968), p. 58.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    A. R. Gardner, Product Eng., 32 (31): 8 (1961).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    P. C. Vander Arend, in: Advances in Cryogenic Engineering, Vol. 15, Plenum Press, New York (1969), p. 150.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    G. Y. Robinson Jr. and W. H. Hogan, in: Cryogenic Engineering: Present Status and Future Development, Heywood Temple Industrial Publications, Ltd., London (1968), p. 219.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1971

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. W. Johnson
    • 1
  • S. C. Collins
    • 1
  • J. L. SmithJr.
    • 2
  1. 1.Cryogenic Technology, Inc.WalthamUSA
  2. 2.Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA

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