An Efficient Cryocooler Driven By Electrochemical Compressors With No Moving Parts
ABSTRACT: Next-generation space-based focal plane array infrared detectors require efficient cooling at low temperatures. We propose to develop an innovative cryocooler with no mechanical moving parts that can provide cooling at temperatures below 123 K while rejecting heat at temperatures higher than 300 K. The cooler uses compact, efficient electrochemical compressors with no moving parts to enhance the system reliability and eliminate payload jitter. The cooler also uses a novel dilution cycle to enable the system to provide efficient cooling. The proposed system will efficiently provide 0.5 W of refrigeration at 123 K in a compact package. The unique characteristics of the cryocooler permit distributed cooling over a large area with high thermodynamic efficiency, resulting in low input power and reduced mass. In Phase I, we will demonstrate the operation of a proof-of-concept electrochemical compressor and the dilution cycle; design the Phase II system; and predict detailed cryocooler performance by analysis. In Phase II, we will design, build, and demonstrate a prototype cryocooler system and deliver it to an Air Force research lab for further evaluation. BENEFIT: The proposed solid-state cryocoolers will eliminate mechanical vibrations and substantially improve the reliability of cryocooling systems for infrared focal plane arrays. Their military applications include space-based surveillance, missile detection, and missile tracking systems. Scientific applications include cooling for space-based infrared observatories. Commercial applications include cooling systems for communication satellites, superconducting instruments, and SQUIDs.
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