Barber-Nichols Inc. (BNI) is the world’s leading supplier of high-speed nitrogen gas circulators for use in Space Simulation Chambers. The nitrogen gas is circulated to a shroud inside the chamber and typically alternates between 150 C and -185 C (300 F and -300 F) for months at a time to simulate the temperature changes a satellite endures as it orbits in front of and behind the earth.
These relatively small circulators have a high-speed motor direct-driving an impeller on a single shaft with high-precision ball bearings. Stable and reliable operation is possible over a wide range of speed utilizing a variable frequency drive (VFD) thus producing a large performance range. The circulator is hermetically sealed and has a fluid jacket for circulation of water/glycol to cool the power-dense motor and actually warm the lower bearing during cryogenic operation. Finally, BNI’s circulators can be serviced without being disconnected from the nitrogen gas plumbing.
BNI produced climatic test chamber blowers with power levels reaching 100 hp, flow rates up to 2500 m3/hr (1500 acfm), and head rise up to 1500 m (5000 ft). BNI’s nitrogen gas circulators for space simulation chambers are being used around the world. Clients include Air Liquide, Angelantoni, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), Lockheed Martin, NASA, and Space Systems Loral.