According to the Cryogenic Society of America Inc., a cryogenic cooler or a cryocooler is a device designed to allow active cooling at temperatures of about -150 degrees Celsius or colder. Different thermodynamic techniques and cycles are utilized in the process of cryocooling. On an average, a cryocooler has a capacity of 100W or less whereas a cryogenic refrigerator or a cryoplant has a capacity of 500W. The cryogenic fluids such as liquid helium, liquid nitrogen, or very cold nitrogen and helium gas are utilized for cryocooling. The liquefied gas is circulated to absorb heat from the interior of the cryocooler and transfer it outside.
The ability of a cryocooler to cool its interior environment depends on various thermodynamic properties of the circulating gas. The global cryocooler market has been witnessing considerable demand from the developed economies owing to the rapidly evolving technologies in the military and healthcare sectors.
Some of the common types of cryocoolers are Stirling cryocoolers, Brayton cryocoolers, pulse-tube cryocoolers, Joule Thomson cryocoolers, and Gifford-McMahon cryocoolers. In terms of services, the global cryocooler market can be segmented into product repair and refurbishment, customer training, technical support, and preventive maintenance. The key application sectors in the global cryocooler market are research and development, energy, military, commercial, medical, space, transport, and environmental. The military sector has contributed immensely towards the growth of the market.
The growing demand for cryocoolers across the military and healthcare sectors has been boosting the global cryocoolers market. In the military sector, cryocoolers are used to maintain cryogenic temperatures for IR sensors installed in night vision-based systems, satellite-based surveillance, and missile guidance. In the healthcare sector, the rising demand for cryocoolers can be attributed to their extensive utilization in proton therapy, cryosurgery, MRI systems, and liquefaction of oxygen in hospitals. The rapid shortage of helium gas across the developing economies has also supported the market’s growth. Cryocoolers are also used for superconductivity applications in semiconductor fabrication units and magnetic levitation trains. The global cryocooler market has immense growth opportunities with the increasing applications of cryocoolers in the space sector.
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Geographically, the global cryocooler market has been segmented into Asia Pacific, Europe, North America, and Rest of the World. In North America, the cryocooler market has been registering significant growth due to the rising adoption of cryocoolers for proton therapy in the treatment of cancer. Cryocoolers are being also used for satellite monitoring and missile guidance in the military sector. In November last year, the U.S. Navy’s aircraft carrier USS Gerald R Ford was successfully installed with the cryocooler technology. The robust growth of the military and healthcare sector in the U.S. has driven the growth of the cryocooler market in North America. Asia Pacific and Europe are expected to exhibit considerable demand for cryocoolers.
The prominent players in the global cryocooler market are Superconductor Technologies Inc. Brooks Automation Inc., Advanced Research Systems, Inc., Janis Research Company LLC, Cryomech, Inc., Chart Industries, Inc., DH Industries BV, Sumitomo Heavy Industries Ltd., and Sunpower, Inc. The key players are focusing on expanding the applications of cryocoolers across the military and energy sector.
Furthermore, the players are looking to partner with research organizations and governments to expand their business. For example, Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corporation has won a contract worth US$18.2 mn to design, test, and deliver a cryocooler for NASA’s Landsat-9 spacecraft. For NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope to be launched in 2018, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory has developed an innovative cryocooler that will freeze the telescope’s Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI).