Demonstration of a Compact Spacecraft Cryocooler

Period of Performance: 04/01/2000 - 04/10/2001


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Mainstream Engineering Corporation
200 Yellow Place Array
Rockledge, FL 32955
Principal Investigator

Research Topics


Mainstream has developed an innovative cryocooler design that combines amulti-cascaded single-compressor vapor-compression system with a closed Brayton cycle, and an adsorption cooler to achieve low-temperature cryocooling in a compactmicro-gravity configuration. In Phase I we propose to demonstrate this unique hybrid configuration. Phase I will provide experimental verification of the approach and experimentally-derived "Hard Numbers" to support the cooling capacity claims of this proposal. Preliminary research by Mainstream has already demonstrated a cryocooling system specific capacity of 37 watts(cooling) per cubic foot! The Phase I effort is significant, in that a field demonstration of this low-temperature compact configuration will be achieved before proceeding to Phase II.Previous experiments have already demonstrated that the cascade cryocooling portion of the proposed cycle is already significantly more efficient than Stirling or Pulse Tube systems. (Mainstream's cascade cooler performance is 18-20% of Carnot whereas Stirling or Pulse Tube systems are only 5-10% of Carnot.) The completion of the Phase II contract would result in the adaptation of this demonstrated cryocooler technology specifically for a DOD sensor application. The commercialization of this cryocooler compliments our existing cryocoolers. This Phase I effort will demonstrate an innovative, compact cryocooling system that has tremendous commercial medical and industrial applications. Mainstream hasalready committed it own resources into performing initial prototype experiments andhas received a $500,000 non-federal Phase III commercialization commitment