Green Gown Awards 2015 Facilities and Services - The University of Nottingham - Highly Commended

Tags: sustainability | green gown awards | university | research | facilities and services | helium

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Helium – Lost in Space

Helium is a non-renewable resource and is essential for the operation of MRI scanners and magnets supporting research into drug discovery to cure such diseases as Alzheimer’s and Hodgkinson’s.  It is a vital ingredient of cutting-edge research within Universities worldwide.

At current usage rates worldwide helium reserves are estimated to be exhausted in the next 25 to 35 years. This project incorporates capturing Helium Gas from across a number of Schools using a network of underground pipework and bespoke gas trailers, gasbags and compressors.  This is returned to the main hub, where it is re-liquefied, distributed and reused.

It encompasses all existing methods/techniques of Helium recovery into one system, vastly increasing the capture of previously lost gas. This protects and futureproofs The University from dramatic fluctuations in availability and cost resulting in a more sustainable market. This project gained recognition by winning The 2015 Guardian University Award for Sustainability.

Top 3 learnings

1 Plan, Plan, Plan and have various contingencies in place covering changes of those plans

2 Ensure the relevant people are involved from the outset encouraging  commitment and ideas

3 Liaise with others who have undertaken a similar project both large and small scale.