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Direct cooling from the regenerators of Gifford-McMahon cryocoolers, with comparison to pulse tube refrigerators



Ryan Snodgrass, Joel Ullom


The second-stage regenerators of pulse tube refrigerators (PTRs) are routinely used to intercept heat loads without disturbing cooling at their base temperatures, often near 4 K. Gifford-McMahon cryocoolers (GMCs) have not yet demonstrated a similar capability to provide regenerator cooling, possibly because of the thermal resistance between their regenerator shell and core. Here we show that GMCs do have capacity to provide regenerator cooling when heat loads are applied directly on the outer regenerator shell, although to a lesser extent compared to PTRs of similar cooling capacity. For example, we intercepted a 900 mW heat load at 21.6 K using the second-stage regenerator of a GMC while only giving up 10 mW of cooling at 3 K (out of 270 mW). This performance may possibly be improved by optimizing heat exchange between heat source and regenerator shell. We provide detailed temperature profile measurements from both a GMC and a PTR while applying heat to the regenerators, showing distinct behavior between the two. We also show that for GMCs, the optimal location of heat injection should be farther from the cold end than for PTRs. Although the physical source of regenerator cooling is less clear for GMCs than it is for PTRs, a useful amount of cooling is available and warrants further study.


Regenerator cooling, intermediate cooling, pulse tube refrigerator, Gifford-McMahon cryocooler, thermoacoustics


Snodgrass, R. and Ullom, J. (2022), Direct cooling from the regenerators of Gifford-McMahon cryocoolers, with comparison to pulse tube refrigerators, Cryogenics, [online],, (Accessed June 17, 2024)


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Created May 5, 2022, Updated November 29, 2022