Description: In the Fermilab Tevatron cryogenic system there are many remotely located low-pressure plate relief valves that must vent large volumes of cold helium gas when magnet quenches occur. These valves can occasionally stick open or not reseat completely, resulting in a large helium loss. As such, the need exists for a detector to monitor the relief valve's discharge area for the presence of helium. Due to the quantity needed, cost is an important factor. A unit has been developed and built for this purpose that is quite inexpensive. Its operating principle is based on the speed of sound, where two closely matched tubes operate at their acoustic resonant frequency. When helium is introduced into one of these tubes, the resulting difference in acoustic time of flight is used to trigger an alarm. At present, there are 39 of these units installed and operating in the Tevatron. They have detected many minor and major helium leaks, and have also been found useful in detecting a rise in the helium background in the enclosed refrigerator buildings. This paper covers the construction, usage and operational experience gained with these units over the last several years.
Date: January 1, 2006
Creator: Bossert, R.J.
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