The Integrated Cryogenically-Cooled Experiment Box (ICE-Box) is a unique cryogenic testing facility at NASA’s Glenn Research Center that enables quick, low-cost methods for conducting low temperature tests on aircraft components.
Unlike larger, traditional cryogenic testing facilities, ICE-Box is a simple, transportable system that operates without the use of hazardous cryogenic fluids and allows non-cryogenic experts to easily perform rapid component testing.
ICE-Box uses electrical cryocoolers and trim heaters to easily adjust testing temperatures anywhere from 12K to 130K, eliminating the need to constantly switch between multiple working fluids.
This reconfigurable system is primarily electrical and utilizes gaseous helium as the sole circulating fluid to maintain cryogenic temperatures.
The ICE-Box is currently being used for testing performance of superconducting wires and coils, and will play a critical role in making cryogenic testing more efficient for future electrified aircraft system testing.
0.864 m diameter, 1.22 m tall
12K to 130K (can simulate temperatures of liquid hydrogen, liquid nitrogen, liquid oxygen, and liquid methane)
Cryogenic Vessel: The primary component of the system which houses the test subject.
Vacuum System: Helps create a high vacuum within the cryogenic vessel and establish the pressure conditions required for testing.
Cryocooler and Compressor Systems: Used to cool down the system and maintain temperatures required for testing. The cryocooler system contains compressor packages that compress helium gas under high pressure, and cold heads that expand the compressed helium to help remove heat and maintain cryogenic temperatures. The design features a single wall vessel using a single stage system that removes 100W at 25K, and/or a second stage system that removes 40K at 80K.
Chiller System: Provides temperature-controlled water to absorb waste heat from the cryocooler compressor.
Data Acquisition (DAQ) and Heater Controller System: Configurable and capable of low and high-speed acquisition rates for pressure, temperature, flow, current, voltage, torque, and magnetic/electric fields data. Temperature sensors and readers are used to monitor and maintain temperatures of the cold head and cold plate, and heater jacks help adjust temperatures up to 500W, achieving as high as liquid methane temperatures.