An introduction to Cryogenics and Superconductivity

Dr Jess Spurrell

Tuesday, September 17 2019 at 7:30PM

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38 West Street
PO19 1RP

Tel: 01243 783185

Dr Jess Spurrell

What's the talk about?

When Dr Jess Spurrell says she works in cryogenics, the first thing people ask is, "Do you freeze dead people? Or aliens?"

At very low temperatures, all sorts of unusual things can happen. Electrical resistance can disappear, frogs and surfers can levitate, liquid can climb out of its container, biological processes can be slowed almost to a halt.

Dr Jess Spurrell is School-University Partnership Officer at the University of Southampton. She has a PhD in Cryogenic Engineering and Superconductivity. 

Jess is an ambassador for women in engineering and has given numerous talks and demonstrations. 

£5 entrance on the door. 

Summary of talk

Dr Spurrell certainly knows her stuff. She spoke fluently and with passion about cryogenics and her PhD project on superconductivity.

She became interested in cryogenics after finishing a degree in aerospace engineering. Along the way, she also ran a 
comedy club.

She now works for Southampton University as the School-University Partnership Officer and is an advocate for women in science. She began her talk by discussing some of her favourite famous scientists.

After defining cryogenics (temperatures below those normally occurring on Earth), she described the process of liquefying gases such as Nitrogen and Hydrogen drawn from the air. She explained that liquid Helium, however, is becoming a scarce resource that is mined from the earth.

Dr Spurrell moved on to freezing living things and showed why only the smallest creatures can survive being frozen: the formation of ice crystals damages cell walls, and other reasons.

She discussed the wide range of applications of cryogens such as liquid hydrogen, including rocket fuel, refrigeration, energy storage, tissue storage, space simulation, manufacturing.

Dr Spurrell ended her talk with superconductivity and its applications: MRI, MagLev trains, computers, the Hadron collider and her PhD project on lossless electrical power transmission.

After a break, she answered several questions and showed us some video clips, including levitating frogs and liquids.

We thanked Dr Spurrell for an entertaining talk and for shedding light on this fascinating topic and science of the future.

You can download her PowerPoint presentation in the Files section on our Facebook page.