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Pulse tubes

A variety of applications for space

Pulse tube technology has a variety of applications for space: from Earth observation to meteorology, etc. As their mechanism has no cold moving parts, the pulse tubes are extremely reliable, with an extended useful life, without generating vibrations, and at a reduced cost.

These coolers have a temperature range of between 10K and 40K for the HiPTC (Heat intercepted Pulse Tube Cryocooler) and between 50K and 120K for the LPTC (Large Pulse Tube Cryocooler).

The Pulse Tube Cryocooler technology is based on a variation of the Stirling cycle where the displacer corresponds to a passively phase-shifted mass of gas. This cycle ensures the production of cold at a specific point of the system. The system consists of a balanced pressure oscillator and a coaxial pulse tube cold finger. The whole system is implemented by remote electronics.

Key benefits

  • Easy to integrate ǀ The reduced vibration levels and the robustness of the cold finger make it easier to integrate the system close to the application that requires cooling
  • Increased reliability and useful life ǀ This equipment has a completely passive cold finger and the compressor pistons are held on flexible bearings that eliminate all contact with the casings
  • Reduced cost ǀ The simplicity of the cold finger, the lack of moving parts, and the lack of hydraulic actuators, reduce the complexity of the cooler drive electronics, thereby reducing the system impact and therefore costs.
  • Vibration levels that are compatible with space applications ǀ The remarkably low levels of vibration (a few mN) mean that these machines are compatible with the very stringent specifications for photo detectors.
  • Compliant with the highest standards ǀ ECSS ESA space standards

485mW @ 15K of cold power for HiPTC cryocoolers

3W @ 50K of cold power for LPTC cryocoolers

10 to 200 K at the cold end

over 20 years' useful life (storage + operation) without maintenance

Main technical characteristics

LPTC Large Pulse Tube Cooler

  • Mass 7.3kg (without electric power)
  • Cooling power: 3 W at 50K; 5.5 W at 70K
  • Electric power: 160 W

HiPTC Heat Intercepted Pulse Tube Cooler

  • Mass 22kg (without electric power)
  • Cooling power: 400 mW at 15K; 5.2 W at 100K
  • Electric power: 300 W

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Solid references

  • Air Liquide was selected by Thales Aliena Space to supply integrated solutions to cool Focal Plane Arrays around 50-60K in the frame of the Meteosat Third Generation (MTG) program.
  • The Air Liquide LPTC cooler was also selected by Thales Aliena Space for one of its program.
  • Airbus Defense and Space and the CNES selected the pulse tube cryocooler of Air Liquide advanced Technologies to handle the cooling of the new generation Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer (IASI-NG).

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