An Advanced Compressor for Turbo-Brayton Cryocoolers
Hill, R. W.
Hilderbrand, J. K.
Zagarola, M. V.
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Future space-borne infrared sensor missions will require reliable, efficient, and lightweight cryocoolers. Reverse turbo-Brayton cryocoolers have the inherent benefits of negligible vibration emittance and the ability to cool remote or distributed loads. In this paper we describe the results of our efforts to improve overall system efficiency with the development of a high performance permanent magnet motor compressor. A prototype 500 W class compressor was fabricated and tested at prototypical operating conditions. The compressor utilizes gas bearings for zero-wear, negligible vibration, and high-speed operation; and a miniature impeller for high performance at relatively low power levels. The impeller was manufactured using new fabrication processes that allow advanced blade geometries to be produced at a miniature scale. In addition, the new process is extremely precise, simplifies inspection, is readily scalable to different power levels, and produces parts more quickly and at a lower cost than the heritage process. The compressor tests demonstrated a reduction in input power of up to 30% as compared to our induction-motor compressors. We expect further performance improvements as we add upgrades to the prototype.