High Efficiency 10K Cryocooler for Space Applications

Period of Performance: 05/11/2000 - 10/10/2000


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Advanced Mechanical Technology, Inc.
141 California Street
Newton, MA 02158
Principal Investigator


Existing technology for cryogenic cooling of instruments, sensors, and other electronics is either overly expensive, too large and/or heavy, or inefficient. It is proposed to develop an innovative cryocooler capable of 0.5 Watts of cooling at temperatures on the order of 10 Kelvin which is more compact, lighter weight, more reliable, lower cost, and more efficient than present technology. The proposed research and development project will start by applying an inherently energy-efficient cycle to a small-scale machine and achieve a cost effective design by taking advantage of several new innovations and developments in cryogenic technology.Future space exploration programs will require more advanced thermal management technology to address the demands of ever more sophisticated sensors and instruments,and the need to build more compact space craft. The proposed cryocooler will addressthese challenges by developing a smaller, lighter and more efficient device than iscurrently available. Applications for this technology are not limited to space exploration or military applications. Existing devices such as MRI machines can benefit from improved cryogenic cooling, and high temperature superconducting devices currently under development such as electric motors and superconducting magnetic energy storage systems are also possible applications. Commercial applications for this technology fall into the categories of existing and emerging applications which require cryogenic cooling of superconducting circuits and devices. Existing applications include the superconducting current leads and SQUIDSof magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines, as well as other electronic applications such as superconducting communications filters used in cellular telephone networks. Emerging applications include superconducting devices currently being developed such as motors, power transformers, magnetic energy storage, and possibly transmission cable which will make use of high temperature superconducting (HTS) materials.