Temperature lowering of liquid nitrogen via injection of helium gas bubbles improves the generation of parahydrogen-enriched gas

James Daley, Joseph Siciliano, Vincent Ferraro, Elodie Sutter, Adam Lounsbery, Nicholas Whiting

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The para spin isomer of hydrogen gas possesses high nuclear spin order that can enhance the NMR signals of a variety of molecular species. Hydrogen is routinely enriched in the para spin state by lowering the gas temperature while flowing through a catalyst. Although parahydrogen enrichments approaching 100% are achievable near the H2 liquefaction temperature of 20 K, many experimentalists operate at liquid nitrogen temperatures (77 K) due to the lower associated costs and overall simplicity of the parahydrogen generator. Parahydrogen that is generated at 77 K provides an enrichment value of ~51% of the para spin isomer; while useful, there are many applications that can benefit from low-cost access to higher parahydrogen enrichments. Here, we introduce a method of improving parahydrogen enrichment values using a liquid nitrogen-cooled generator that operates at temperatures less than 77 K. The boiling temperature of liquid nitrogen is lowered through internal evaporation into helium gas bubbles that are injected into the liquid. Changes to liquid nitrogen temperatures and parahydrogen enrichment values were monitored as a function of helium gas flow rate. The injected helium bubbles lowered the liquid nitrogen temperature to ~65.5 K, and parahydrogen enrichments of up to ~59% were achieved; this represents an ~16% improvement compared with the expected parahydrogen fraction at 77 K. This technique is simple to implement in standard liquid nitrogen-cooled parahydrogen generators and may be of interest to a wide range of scientists that require a cost-effective approach to improving parahydrogen enrichment values.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)94-100
Number of pages7
JournalMagnetic Resonance in Chemistry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • General Materials Science


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