Investigation and measures of abnormal events of helium refrigerator for cryogenic hydrogen system at J-PARC
Aso, Tomokazu ; Teshigawara, Makoto ; Hasegawa, Shoichi ; Aoyagi, Katsuhiro*; Muto, Hideki*; Nomura, Kazutaka*; Takada, Hiroshi ; Ikeda, Yujiro
Liquid hydrogen is employed as a cold neutron moderator material at the spallation neutron source of Materials and Life science experimental Facility of Japan Proton Accelerator Research Complex (J-PARC). From January 2015, it became observable that the differential pressure between heat exchangers and an 80 K adsorber (ADS) in a helium refrigerator system increased with operating time. In November 2015, the differential pressure rise became more significant, leading to degrade the refrigerating performance in cooling liquid hydrogen. In order to investigate the cause of the abnormal differential pressure rise between the heat exchangers and the ADS, we carried out visual inspection inside the heat exchangers and analyzed the impurities contained in the helium gas. Unfortunately, we could not identify the impurities causing the performance degradation, but observed a trace of oil in the inlet piping of the heat exchanger. Based on investigations of the abnormal events occurred in the refrigerators with similar refrigerating capacity at other facilities, we took measures that cleaning the heat exchangers with Freon and replacing the ADS with new one. As a result, the differential pressure rise phenomenon was removed to recover the performance. We have detected oil from the Freon used for cleaning the heat exchangers and at a felt supporting charcoal packed in the ADS. In particular, oil was accumulated in membranous form onto the felt at the entrance side in the ADS. The amount of oil contained in the helium gas was about 10 ppb or so, less than the design value, in the helium refrigerator. However, the oil accumulated onto the felt in the ADS through long operating period may cause abnormal differential pressure rise, leading to the performance degradation of the helium refrigerator. Further study is needed to specify the cause more clearly.