Catastrophic loss of beam tube vacuum in a superconducting particle accelerator can be simulated by sudden venting of a long high vacuum channel cooled on its outer surface by He II. The rapid rush of atmospheric air in such an event shows an interesting propagation effect, which is much slower than the shock wave that occurs with vacuum loss at ambient conditions. This is due to flash frosting/deposition of air on the cold walls of the channel. Hence to characterize the propagation as well as the associated heat transfer, it is first necessary to understand the deposition process. Here we attempt to model the growth of nitrogen frost layer on a cold plate in order to estimate its thickness with time. The deposition process can be divided into two regimes- free molecular and continuum. It is shown that in free molecular regime, the frost growth can be modeled reasonably well using cryopump theory and general heat transfer relations. The continuum regime is more complex to model, given the higher rate of gas incident on cryosurface causing a large heat load on helium bath and changing cryosurface temperature. Results from the continuum regime are discussed in the context of recent experiments performed in our laboratory.

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