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Regenerator Operation at Very High Frequencies for Microcryocoolers



Ray Radebaugh, Agnes A. O'Gallagher


The size of Stirling and Stirling-type pulse tube cryocoolers is dominated by the size of the pressure oscillator. Such cryocoolers typically operate at frequencies up to about 60 Hz for cold-end temperatures above about 60 K. Higher operating frequencies would allow the size and mass of the pressure oscillator to be reduced for a given power input. However, simply increasing the operating frequency leads to large losses in the regenerator. The simple analytical equations derived here show how the right combination of frequency and pressure, along with optimized regenerator geometry, can lead to successful regenerator operation at frequencies up to 1 kHz. Efficient regenerator operation at such high frequencies is only possible with pressures of about 5 to 8 MPa and with very small hydraulic diameters and lengths. Other geometrical parameters must also be optimized for such conditions. The analytical equations are used to provide guidance to the right combination of parameters. Example numerical calculations with REGEN3.2 given in the paper for 60 Hz, 400 Hz, and 1000 Hz operation of optimized screen regenerators show that the coefficient of performance at 400 Hz and 1000 Hz is about 78% and 68%, respectively, of that for 60 Hz when an average pressure of 7 MPa is used with the higher frequency, compared with 2.5 MPa for 60 Hz operation. The 1000 Hz coefficient of performance for parallel tubes is about the same as that of the screen geometry at 60 Hz. The compressor and cold-end swept volumes are reduced by a factor of 47 at 1000 Hz compared with the 60 Hz case for the same input acoustic power, which can enable the development of micro cryocoolers for MEMS applications.
Advances in Cryogenic Engineering


Cryocoolers, cryogenics, high frequency, MEMS, miniature, numerical analysis, pulse tubes, refrigeration, regenerators, Stirling


Radebaugh, R. and O'Gallagher, A. (2006), Regenerator Operation at Very High Frequencies for Microcryocoolers, Advances in Cryogenic Engineering, [online], (Accessed June 2, 2023)
Created April 27, 2006, Updated June 2, 2021