Peter Iredale, Engineering Lead at Honeywell Hymatic talks about using cryogenic technologies for precision tactical and space applications
Honeywell Hymatic has been at the forefront of cooling technology for infrared and sensing applications for over 50 years. Operating in some of the most demanding environments, Honeywell technology increases reliability and efficiency, whilst enabling missiles, satellites, fighting vehicles, underwater weapons and submarines to more effectively and accurately complete their missions.
Through our expertise in Joule-Thomson cryogenic coolers, linear Stirling cycle cryocoolers and compressors and extensive knowledge of long life stored energy technologies, Honeywell offers customers an integrated solution for their cooling requirements. From our dedicated cryogenic facility, we provide a bespoke manufacturing service and a responsive aftercare infrastructure to support through the lifecycle of the product.
Joule-Thomson Cryogenic Coolers and Stored Energy Gas Systems
Joule-Thomson (J-T) coolers remain the simplest, lightest and easiest technology for cryogenic cooling across a wide range of IR sensor applications, employed in numerous global missile programmes such as Javelin, StormShadow and ASRAAM. They provide rapid, accurate cooling, within tight space envelopes.
We offer a variety of J-T coolers that can optimise gas consumption, resulting in more efficient operation. Complimentary to this are our stored energy products that provide fuel for the J-T coolers and can utilise a variety of gas species, dependant on the requirement, throughout their typically extensive 25-year life cycle. These gas systems can often include various gas management ancillaries that control flow rates under varying ambient pressures (altitudes), temperatures and other complex environmental requirements often akin to tactical/airborne applications.
What this ultimately provides is a complete solution for cooling, gas supply and management of gases for the intended application regardless of the environmental complexities customers are often faced with.
Linear Stirling cycle cryocoolers
Designed for use in high duty applications for continuous use as a replacement for legacy cooling systems, the Linear Cryocooler offers significantly extended life and enhanced levels of performance.
Honeywell’s Linear Cryocoolers incorporate unique, patented technology from the development and industrialisation of an Oxford University design concept. This patented technology, born out of the need for extremely high reliability for space applications, offers superior durability to traditional tactical Linear Cryocoolers.
Designed to ‘fit and forget’ standards, the system uses a non-contact dynamic sealing of the internal working gas, coupled with a high reliability linear electric drive, which has been proven to deliver over 120,000 hours of constant, maintenance-free operation.
Due to their durability, reliability and military-grade performance, 85% of US long life flexure bearing Linear Cryocoolers in orbit on satellites today contain Honeywell Hymatic hardware. Other potential applications include:
- Extended operation cryogenic sensor cooling requirements;
- High-efficiency compressors for space applications;
- High reliability/durability sensor cooling – radioisotope detection systems;
- Power generation for forwarding outposts.
Future developments and forging relationships
Under a General Support Technology Program (GSTP), funding from the European Space Agency (ESA), a consortium of Honeywell Hymatic, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) and Thales Alenia Space UK is now working on the next generation of long-life Linear Space Cryocoolers for Europe. Cryocoolers such as these are critical to future Earth observation missions where the need for high-resolution IR sensing needs to be balanced carefully against the satellite payload size, weight and efficiency. ESA identified the need to push the technology of Cryocoolers with respect to size, weight and efficiency after benchmarking US Space Cryocoolers as world-leading, including those supplied by Honeywell. The program, currently at its mid-point of a 3-year schedule, promises to deliver engineering qualified units to ESA that will be market-leading within Europe, with respect to low mass/size and high efficiency, whilst maintaining the long life heritage required for said applications.
Our relationship with RAL is yielding further development of products for tactical/commercial applications. The Cryogenics team at RAL has a long-established heritage in the field of long life Space Cryocoolers, working with ESA and the UK Space Agency. Recently RAL has been developing a Small Scale Cryocooler for use in miniature space satellites, pushing the space envelope ever smaller. Honeywell Hymatic, seeing an opportunity with this design, has taken the technology and is applying our manufacturing techniques to ensure a version can be produced for tactical and commercial IR applications without the high costs traditionally associated with space applications. However, this does present an opportunity for space applications in the respect that a Cryocooler may be taken from a standard production run, and with a minimal increase in testing and quality control, supplied to a space customer for a much-reduced cost over traditional Space Cryocoolers. The key to this philosophy is the sustainability of source product and its manufacturers. The space market represents very low quantities of product per annum, whereas the volumes for tactical/commercial coolers are far greater and often the technology cannot read from one to the other. This is a dichotomy that Honeywell Hymatic is working to break with the Small Scale Cooler.
Honeywell Hymatic employs a dedicated team of specialised engineers and technicians with a combined experience of more than 300 years in cryogenic products. We continue to invest in developing leading-edge technology, working in partnership with our customers, to offer effective solutions based on our mission proven expertise.
For more information on our full product range, please visit our website: https://Aerospace.honeywell.com/cryogenic-cooling
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Please note: this is a commercial profile