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As more electronic systems and components are added to vehicles, meeting thermal requirements and keeping these systems cooled continues to be an urgent need. The GSPEL Calorimeter Laboratory provides researchers with the capability to test larger, more powerful vehicle cooling systems prior to integration.
The new lab conducts performance and durability evaluations for heat-transfer components and modules. This new and improved laboratory allows for testing with single-phase heat transfer of radiators, charged-air coolers and oil coolers, or all four phases simultaneously — cooling air, radiator coolant, oil cooler oil and charged-air &mash; as they’re configured in the vehicle.
The Calorimeter Lab features world class capabilities — accommodating air flows of up to 50,000 cubic feet per minute (CFM) and temperatures up to 650°F — for evaluating heat exchange equipment. Testing can be conducted individually or simultaneously on any radiator, oil cooler or charged-air system in the Army’s inventory.
GVSET News spoke with Calorimeter Lab Mechanical Engineer Michael Richard about the benefits this new capability will provide the Army.
What capabilities does this lab provide that were not previously available?
This Calorimeter can test larger radiators, larger grilles and accommodate increased air flows — up to 50,000 CFM and 30,000 British thermal units (BTUs) per minute, compared to the old lab’s capacity of 20,000 CFM and 20,000 BTUs per minute. Our new lab not only tests radiators and grilles, but can also test oil coolers and charged-air coolers individually or as part of an integrated system. The new lab has upgraded capabilities, including increased maximum air flow and maximum coolant temperature. The size, type and number of heat exchangers that can be tested are greater than we had previously, and various test fluids are available.
What benefit does this provide the Army?
In the GSPEL Calorimeter Lab, we are able to provide testing services to check, evaluate and assess heat exchanger systems for all military ground vehicles. Our work involves developing improvements for current systems, evaluating heat exchanger systems for new vehicles and verifying specifications of new products. Running first article tests is one of the primary methods for inspecting and testing vendor components to determine whether or not their products meet our requirements.
What dual-use benefit can this provide to industry and academic partners, and what collaborative opportunities will it provide?
TARDEC partners with various industry, academic and government entities, and we expect those partnerships to increase. Because of the larger sizes and capacities of our heat exchanger, I would expect contractors to come to TARDEC, for our advanced capabilities in heat exchanger testing.
What’s the first project/vehicle you’re going to test in this new lab?
Currently, we have two signed test agreements, one with Mezzo and one with Aegis Corporations. The technology being pursued has the potential to be applied to the Bradley Fighting Vehicle and, if successful, to future vehicles.