The widespread use of rotary Stirling coolers in high performance thermal imagers used for critical 24/7 surveillance tasks justifies any effort to significantly enhance the reliability and predictable uptime of those coolers. Typically the lifetime of the whole imaging device is limited due to continuous wear and finally failure of the rotary compressor of the Stirling cooler, especially due to failure of the comprised bearings. MTTF based lifetime predictions, even based on refined MTTF models taking operational scenario dependent scaling factors into account, still lack in precision to forecast accurately the end of life (EOL) of individual coolers. Consequently preventive maintenance of individual coolers to avoid failures of the main sensor in critical operational scenarios are very costly or even useless. We have developed an integrated test method based on ‘Micro Electromechanical Systems’, so called MEMS sensors, which significantly improves the cooler EOL prediction. The recently commercially available MEMS acceleration sensors have mechanical resonance frequencies up to 50 kHz. They are able to detect solid borne shock pulses in the cooler structure, originating from e.g. metal on metal impacts driven by periodical forces acting on moving inner parts of the rotary compressor within wear dependent slack and play. The impact driven transient shock pulse analyses uses only the high frequency signal <10kHz and differs therefore from the commonly used broadband low frequencies vibrational analysis of reciprocating machines. It offers a direct indicator of the individual state of wear. The predictive cooler lifetime model based on the shock pulse analysis is presented and results are discussed.
M. Hübner and M. Münzberg, "MEMS based shock pulse detection sensor for improved rotary Stirling cooler end of life prediction," Proc. SPIE 10626, Tri-Technology Device Refrigeration (TTDR) III, 106260A (Presented at SPIE Defense + Security: April 18, 2018; Published: 9 May 2018); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2304738.
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