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 firstname.lastname@example.org; John Priscu, (406) 994-3250 or email@example.com
Professor Ed Adams | EurekAlert!
Diving robots find Antarctic seas exhale surprising amounts of carbon dioxide in winter
16.08.2018 | National Science Foundation
Diving robots find Antarctic winter seas exhale surprising amounts of carbon dioxide
15.08.2018 | University of Washington
There are currently great hopes for solid-state batteries. They contain no liquid parts that could leak or catch fire. For this reason, they do not require cooling and are considered to be much safer, more reliable, and longer lasting than traditional lithium-ion batteries. Jülich scientists have now introduced a new concept that allows currents up to ten times greater during charging and discharging than previously described in the literature. The improvement was achieved by a “clever” choice of materials with a focus on consistently good compatibility. All components were made from phosphate compounds, which are well matched both chemically and mechanically.
The low current is considered one of the biggest hurdles in the development of solid-state batteries. It is the reason why the batteries take a relatively long...
New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference
Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...
Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...
Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.
When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...
Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.
Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....
17.08.2018 | Event News
08.08.2018 | Event News
27.07.2018 | Event News
20.08.2018 | Information Technology
20.08.2018 | Life Sciences
20.08.2018 | Information Technology