From CERN: “How to produce the purest argon ever?” The ARIA project

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30 Nov 2017
Stefania Pandolfi

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ARIA’s modules are being leak-tested at CERN before travelling to Sardinia, Italy. The top, bottom and one standard column module have now been lined up horizontally to test their alignment. (Image: J. Ordan/CERN)

Producing the purest argon ever made is no mean feat, in fact it needs a column 26 metres taller than the Eiffel Tower.

CERN is part of a project, called ARIA, to construct a 350-metre-tall distillation tower that will be used to purify liquid argon for scientific and, in a second phase, medical use.

The full tower, composed of 28 identical modules plus a top (condenser) and a bottom (re-boiler) special module, will be installed in a disused mine site in Sardinia, Italy.

The project is was initiated to supply the purest argon possible to the international dark matter experiment DarkSide at INFN’s Gran Sasso National Laboratories.

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DarkSide Dark Matter Experiment at INFN’s Gran Sasso National Laboratories

Gran Sasso LABORATORI NAZIONALI del GRAN SASSO, located in the Abruzzo region of central Italy

DarkSide is a dual-phase liquid-argon time-projection chamber that aims to detect the possible passage of a dark matter particle in the form of a Weakly Interacting Massive Particle (WIMP) when it hits the argon nuclei contained in the detector. Since this WIMP-nuclei interaction is predicted to be extremely rare, the detector must contain only the purest argon possible, so as not to accidentally produce a spurious signal.

ARIA has been designed to produce this extra-pure argon. Atmospheric argon contains many “impurities” such as water, oxygen, krypton and argon-39, an isotope of argon, which are all sources of unwanted signals. Argon from underground sources is already depleted from the argon-39 isotope by a factor of 1400, but this is still not enough for dark-matter research. ARIA is designed to purify underground argon by a further factor of 100.

See the full article here.

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