Piston Cylinder Apparatus

Purchased with the support of SNSF, Société Académique de Genève, Fondation Ernst et Lucie Schmidheiny, Fondation Ernest Boninchi and the University of Geneva.

We use this apparatus to attain P-T conditions typical of the Earth’s middle and lower crust and upper mantle.

This is an end-loaded piston cylinder apparatus, which was designed and built by Strecon AS in Denmark upon consultation of the principal features with us. It is a powerful yet lightweight apparatus. Its frame is made of strip-wound pre-stressed steel leading to volume and weight reduction and enhanced strength. It uses a twin hydraulic RAM wherein the process RAM is basically the piston of the end load RAM. The pressure stack can be removed from the frame on a sliding plate for easy assembly. Both the end load and process RAM oil pressures are generated and maintained by compressed air-driven liquid pumps. The pressure vessels are also made of strip-wound steel rings around a tungsten carbide core, and were designed for long lifetime at the high end of the allowable pressure range.

Performance Highlights:

  • Max. 320 tons of end load and 90 tons of process load
  • Equipped with 14 mm and 19.05 mm (3/4”)-bore pressure vessels
  • Maximum routinely attainable pressure at 3.5 and 2 GPa with the 14 and 19 mm diameter assemblies, respectively.
  • Temperatures up to 1600 oC controlled by sophisticated Eurotherm EPC3004 temperature controller
  • Accurate and precise monitoring of the process pressure by a digital pressure transducer
  • Convenient automatic repositioning of the piston into the lowermost position by using compressed air
  • Easy access for building the pressure stack
  • Thermocouple insertion from the top
  • Polycarbonate safety shielding with interlock to hydraulic pumps
  • Equipped with B or S-type thermocouples
  • Accessories available for the manufacturing of salt cells and ceramic assembly parts (e.g. Magnorite, boron nitride)
  • The complete apparatus has a 70 X 140 cm footprint and weight of 1170 kg.