24 June 2014 High efficiency digital cooler electronics for aerospace applications
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Abstract
Closed-cycle cryogenic refrigerators, or cryocoolers, are an enabling technology for a wide range of aerospace applications, mostly related to infrared (IR) sensors. While the industry focus has tended to be on the mechanical cryocooler thermo mechanical unit (TMU) alone, implementation on a platform necessarily consists of the combination of the TMU and a mating set of command and control electronics. For some applications the cryocooler electronics (CCE) are technologically simple and low cost relative to the TMU, but this is not always the case. The relative cost and complexity of the CCE for a space-borne application can easily exceed that of the TMU, primarily due to the technical constraints and cost impacts introduced by the typical space radiation hardness and reliability requirements. High end tactical IR sensor applications also challenge the state of the art in cryocooler electronics, such as those for which temperature setpoint and frequency must be adjustable, or those where an informative telemetry set must be supported, etc. Generally speaking for both space and tactical applications, it is often the CCE that limits the rated lifetime and reliability of the cryocooler system. A family of high end digital cryocooler electronics has been developed to address these needs. These electronics are readily scalable from 10W to 500W output capacity; experimental performance data for nominally 25W and 100W variants are presented. The combination of a FPGA-based controller and dual H-bridge motor drive architectures yields high efficiency (>92% typical) and precision temperature control (± 30 mK typical) for a wide range of Stirling-class mechanical cryocooler types and vendors. This paper focuses on recent testing with the AIM INFRAROT-MODULE GmbH (AIM) SX030 and AIM SF100 cryocoolers.
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C. S. Kirkconnell, T. T. Luong, L. S. Shaw, J. B. Murphy, E. A. Moody, A. L. Lisiecki, M. J. Ellis, "High efficiency digital cooler electronics for aerospace applications", Proc. SPIE 9070, Infrared Technology and Applications XL, 90702Q (24 June 2014); doi: 10.1117/12.2053075; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2053075
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