The Development of a New Generation of Miniature Long-Life Linear Coolers

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van de Groep, W.
Mullié, J.
Willems, D.
van Wordragen, F.
Benschop, T.
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Thales Cryogenics (TCBV) has an extensive background in developing and delivering long life cryogenic coolers for military, civil and space programs. This cooler range is based on two main compressor concepts: close tolerance contact seals (UP) and flexure bearing (LSF/LPT) compressors. With both concepts Thales Cryogenics has achieved excellent lifetime results. New market developments require more compact linear cryocoolers with long lifetimes. In this paper the development of two new compact linear cryocoolers will be outlined. Both coolers are initially designed for a ¼” IDCA cold finger and operation between 77°K and 120°K. The first cooler type, which is the UP8497, uses a long-life fully miniature close tolerance contact seal compressor with an expected lifetime of 15,000 hours minimum. The second type, which is the LSF9997, uses an extremely reliable compressor, which is based on the proven flexure bearing technology with an expected lifetime of well over 25,000 hours. The differences in cooler concepts will be described, including design and application tradeoffs. Furthermore, experimental results will be shown and discussed. Also, the expected lifetimes of both concepts and the roadmap towards even more improvements regarding the reliability of both concepts of Stirling coolers will be discussed. Finally, the development of miniature drive electronics suitable for this new generation of compact coolers will be presented.
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