Equipment at the University of Washington which is critical to the research activity of many biomedical research groups requires continuous supply of liquid helium for cooling, including include nine superconducting high field NMR magnets, one EPR spectrometer with Helium sample cooling capability, and one SQUID detector. These instruments support the research of Faculty throughout the University and the entire Seattle biomedical community and is located in a single location within the Chemistry Department, which is centrally located on the Seattle campus and provides an open-access facility. The facility-operated instruments are the only ones of each type available to all groups and departments at the UW and support in an essential manner the operation of >10 research groups the University, supported by grants from NIGMS and other NIH agencies. Significant liquid He costs are incurred by these research groups, approximately $77,000 per year currently; installation of the equipment would result in the recovery of at least 80% of the He, resulting in savings of at least $60,000 per year at current costs. It would also provide long term security with respect to expected uncertainties in the cost and availability of high quality liquid helium for cryogenic application. Through this supplement, we request support for a Cryomech's LHeP15 helium reclamation plant, capable of re-liquefying up to 15 liters per day. Additional components necessary for operation include a separate wheeled He dewar; a set of backpressure regulators to protect each magnet from pressure transients in the recovery system during helium fills, which could trigger catastrophic magnet quenches; a stand-alone water heat exchanger to separate the campus chilled-water loop and the individual compressors for the liquefier and purifier, protecting them from any contaminants and allowing a precise, stable temperature set- point for the water supplied to the compressors. Long term support will be provided by the Department of Chemistry which will continue to support two full time Ph D level support staff that currently manage the NMR and EPR equipment, as well as two electronic engineers. The Department will also assume costs associated with required piping for each magnet, and upgrading for an existing He recovery piping that was abandoned but not dismantled in the early 1990s. Support of this supplement would result in very significant short and long-term savings to a large number of NIH-funded researchers at the UW, Seattle and the Puget Sound, and provide long term security with regards to supplies and operational costs associated with purchase of liquid He.

Public Health Relevance

This research supplement proposal requests support for the installation of a new Helium recovery system for liquid Helium using instrumentation at the University of Washington, located within the Department of Chemistry. Installation of the proposed equipment would result in considerable short- and long-term operational savings to many NIH-funded researchers at the University of Washington who depend on this instrumentation to conduct their research. It would also allow reduction in uncertainty with regards to future costs and availability of Helium to operate equipment that is essential for the research activity of many groups at the UW and across the Seattle biomedical community.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Unknown (R35)
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Sakalian, Michael
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University of Washington
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United States
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Romero Romero, Maria Luisa; Yang, Fan; Lin, Yu-Ru et al. (2018) Simple yet functional phosphate-loop proteins. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 115:E11943-E11950