Part II : 1950 -1957

4. Hydrogen Technology from Thermonuclear Research



Cryogenic Information Exchange


[71] With the fast-paced research and development in cryogenics that began in 1950, there was a need for exchange of information among the engineers and scientists engaged in the program. To that end, the NBS-AEC Cryogenic Engineering Laboratory sponsored an engineering conference at Boulder, 8-10 September 1954.22 Sixty papers were presented on cryogenic equipment, instrumentation, insulation, and materials. A second conference, held in 1956, had fifty papers grouped into four categories-cryogenic processes, equipment, properties, and applications-and one special application, bubble chambers for research on the physics of particles. There were papers on the fundamentals of hydrogen liquefaction, ortho-to-para catalysts, distillation of hydrogen-deuterium mixtures, and safety.23


Among the papers in the third conference in 1957 was one by three Bureau of Standards men on the design of orthohydrogen-to-parahydrogen converters (the necessary step seen by Dwight I. Baker in 1949, p.56). The investigators reported that the 240-liter-per-hour hydrogen liquefier at the NBS cryogenic laboratory used 1.5 liters of 30-100 mesh granules of hydrous ferric oxide catalyst, and this converted the 240-liter-per-hour hydrogen output to about 94 percent parahydrogen. Another paper described liquid oxygen transfer equipment capable of 3800 liters per minute, developed by the Cambridge Corporation; while another described a 6000-liter liquid hydrogen dewar made by Beech Aircraft Company.24 These papers illustrated the level of cryogenic and liquid hydrogen technology in 1957; a quantum jump had been made since the beginning of the decade. A fourth conference was held in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1958; the fifth at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1959; and the sixth back at Boulder in 1960.25