We request funds for the purchase and installation of a liquid helium recovery system in our University-wide Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Core, to support the ongoing, and enable new, NIH-funded research by multiple investigators at the University of Delaware. Housed in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry Magnet Hall, the NMR Core supports the work of a total of over 370 researchers on campus, coming from the groups of over 50 Federally funded Principal Investigators, of whom 9 are funded by NIGMS, and 4 by other NIH institutes. The majority of the instruments run on a 24/7 basis. The average annual liquid helium consumption is about 4600 liters. It is anticipated that 4140 liters of liquid helium will be recaptured based on a 90% recovery rate. NMR spectroscopy is a critical tool for NIH-funded research and relies on the availability of cutting-edge instrument capabilities and uninterrupted operation of the NMR Core. The worldwide helium shortage has already had a detrimental impact on our NMR infrastructure. During the past 12 months, Praxair, our helium supplier, has systematically failed to deliver the product on schedule and failed to supply the required amounts, jeopardizing the operation of our NMR magnets. Given the dwindling helium supplies worldwide, compounded by the steadily increasing price of liquid helium, we will soon face the situation that we will have to shut down the operation of several or all of our instruments. To prevent this scenario and to assure sustainable long-term operation of our NMR equipment, installation of a liquid He recovery system has now become essential.

Public Health Relevance

Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) is a key technique for the characterization of the structure and behavior of biological molecules. The NMR core laboratory in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry supports the work of hundreds of biomedical scientists and is critically dependent on a supply of increasingly scarce liquid helium to cool the superconducting magnets therein. The helium-recovery system requested in this application, will reduce the need for liquid helium shipments by about 90%.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Research Project (R01)
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Anderson, Vernon
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University of Delaware
Schools of Arts and Sciences
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