What if you have a need for liquid nitrogen, but you do not wish to simply order it from a local supplier? In that case you can build your very own pulse tube cryocooler, as [Hyperspace Pirate] is in the process of doing over at YouTube. You can catch part 1 using a linear motor and part 2 using a reciprocating piston-based version also after the break. Although still very much a work-in-progress, the second version of the cryocooler managed to reduce the temperature to a chilly -75°C.
The pulse tube cryocooler is one of many types of systems used for creating a cooling effect. Commercially available refrigerators and freezers tend to use Rankine cycle coolers due to their low cost and effectiveness at (relatively) warmer temperatures. For cryogenic temperatures, Stirling engines are commonly used, although they find some use in refrigeration as well. All three share common elements, but they differ in their efficiency over a larger temperature range.
In this video series, the viewer is taken through the physics behind these coolers and the bottlenecks which prevent them from simply cooling down to zero Kelvin. Despite the deceptive simplicity of pulse tube cryocoolers — with just a single piston, a regenerator mesh, and some tubing — making them work well is an exercise in patience. We’re definitely looking forward to the future videos in this series as it develops.