Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Eighty below and loving it: Montana State University scientists to get new cold lab

30.06.2006
Bozeman - Half-million-year-old Antarctic ice, avalanche triggers, frost heaves in roads and the possibility of life in Martian ice caps are just a few of the research projects expected to find a home in a new cluster of labs planned for Montana State University.

The university recently secured $1.8 million in grants from the National Science Foundation and the Murdock Charitable Trust for what has tentatively been dubbed the Subzero Research Facility, a one-of-a-kind group of eight cold-research laboratories that has received support from scientists around the globe.

"I don't know of anything quite like this in the world," said MSU civil engineering professor Ed Adams. "The Japanese have some excellent facilities, including one very large cold chamber. The U.S. military has some excellent low-temperature wind chambers. However, this facility will be unique in that it will bring so many things together."

Adams, an internationally recognized avalanche and ice expert, along with MSU polar biologist John Priscu wrote the grant proposals that will fund the project.

The facility's eight rooms will be its main instruments, allowing researchers to precisely control humidity, light and temperature. The coldest room of the group will drop to minus 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The facility will be housed in 2,700 square feet on the first floor of Cobleigh Hall in MSU's College of Engineering. Adams and Priscu are hoping the labs will be up and running within a year.

Currently, research requiring cold rooms is scattered around MSU's campus in small and sometimes, ad-hoc laboratories. Priscu, known internationally for his work on microbes in Antarctic ice, has built his own sterile room for analyzing ice frozen for 500,000 years and cored from an ice field 2.5 miles deep.

"This is super-pure ice," Priscu said. "It contains about 10 cells per liter. An average liter of sea water contains more than one million cells."

However, Priscu is unable to cool his sterile room, which can reach 90 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. His storage facility for holding ice cores is crowded and it can take hours to retrieve a single sample.

The Subzero Research Facility will include ample storage space and a refrigerated class 100 clean room. A class 100 clean room - the highest commercially available - contains no more than 100 microscopic particles per cubic foot of air. An average office contains 500,000 to 1,000,000 particles per cubic foot.

The facility will also house a cold observation lab, where students can watch sub-zero experiments through windows while still in the comfort of room temperature. In a structural lab various materials - such as highway concrete - will be stressed under cold temperatures. A wet lab where running water can be observed as it freezes will help researchers study rivers, lakes, wetlands and other bodies of water.

When Priscu and Adams started work on their grant proposals, they were looking at their own research needs. But as the process evolved they realized they could create a facility for researchers across MSU and the globe.

They received letters of support from cold-research labs in Switzerland, Japan and two of the most prominent ones in the United States: the Byrd Polar Research Center in Ohio and the National Ice Core Laboratory in Denver. Neither of the U.S. facilities approximates the MSU project. More than a dozen MSU faculty members from various disciplines also supported the project.

Adams and Priscu hope the facility will be used by researchers looking at everything from frozen wetlands, to road de-icing, to the durability of electronics in icy temperatures.

"It turned out it was easier to write the grants because we were proposing bringing a lot of different people and disciplines together in one spot," Adams said. "I think we'll garner even more interest and research dollars working with people on campus and around the world once they see what we can do here."

Priscu is as optimistic: " I think this could alter the course of research on this campus," he said. "This is something for the whole university."

Contact: Ed Adams, (406) 994-6122 or eda@ce.montana.edu; John Priscu, (406) 994-3250 or jpriscu@montana.edu

Professor Ed Adams | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.montana.edu

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past
28.04.2017 | National Science Foundation

nachricht Citizen science campaign to aid disaster response
28.04.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>