High Purity Aluminum as a Superconducter

Aluminum is uniquely suited for work in extreme cold temperatures since it retains physical properties at these low temperatures, which makes it effective for cryogenic applications. The purer the aluminum, the more it retains these properties, unlike aluminum alloys which will react differently as temperatures get colder. Aluminum will exhibit Superconductivity at 1.2 Kelvin (-457 F), when it offers no resistance to electrical current.  Applications for superconductors include magnetic levitation, such as Maglev trains, medical biometric devices (MRI – magnetic resonance imaging), quantum computing, and high energy physics research.

Another application is superconducting magnets which operate at, or near, 3 degrees Kelvin (-454 degrees Fahrenheit). To achieve these temperatures, cryogenic fluids such as liquid helium are used to cool the magnets.  5N aluminum is an excellent choice of material for thermal heat transfer in the cooling of superconducting magnet systems. The aluminum can be easily wrapped around a cooling pipe flowing with either liquid or gaseous supercooled helium and then around the cold mass of a superconducting magnet in order to draw the heat away from the magnet until it reaches critical temperature when the superconducting wire loses all electrical resistance. The high efficiency of thermal transfer with 5N grade aluminum can save thousands of dollars in cryogenic fluids, such as liquid helium, and many hours of time to cool down the thermal mass of the magnet.

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