What is a Thermal Vacuum Chamber?

16.02.2022What is a Thermal Vacuum Chamber?

Did you know that it is possible to replicate the harsh environments of space right here on Earth?

This is done using a thermal vacuum chamber, a special type of scientific equipment, often resembling a large metal barrel or storage silo. To achieve a vacuum, all of the doors and ports are tightly sealed, and high performance pumps pull all of the particles, moisture and air out of the chamber cavity, leaving nothing inside.

To heat or cool the contents of the testing chamber, special heating elements (thermal shrouds) mounted inside the cavity are either heated or cooled, depending on the test being performed.

Thermal Vacuum Chamber Testing

AEON's Thermal Vacuum Chamber

AEON has successfully completed the commissioning of its first Thermal Vacuum Chamber (TVC) at its CERES facility (Centre for Engineering and RESearch) located at their headquarters in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire.

AEON are developing CERES to support the growing aerospace and R&D sectors across the North West and the Midlands. The Thermal Vacuum Testing will play a crucial role in performing monitored ‘bakeout’ programmes for flight hardware and simulating a space environment, enabling satellite instruments and entire cubesats to be calibrated, configured, and fully flight-tested before launch.

AEON’s new facility will host a full complement of mechanical, optical, photonics, and thermal verification instrumentation (UHV), all of which is aimed to help technology start-ups, academics and instrument manufacturers access space-testing facilities which will provide a means to test and qualify the next generation of space-technologies. All the while helping the UK in increasing its share of the global space (a market that is currently estimated to be worth £400 billion).

thermal vacuum chamber

Thermal Testing Chamber:

  • Vacuum chamber dimensions Ø1m x 1m (extendable to 3m in length on request).
  • Vacuum down to 1x10-9
  • Monitoring of pressure/vacuum down to 1x10-9
  • Thermoelectric Quartz Crystal Microbalance (TQCM) (with thermally matched reference crystal and regeneration cycling).
  • Up to 12 temperature probes.
  • Feedthroughs for on-board power, data and signal.
  • Ultra-low loss Ø280mm optical feedthrough.
  • Temperature from -120°C to 200°C.
Temperature Controlled Quartz Crystal Microbalance

TVC in Action

AEON have completed a multiple of bakeout's in their vacuum chamber, putting it truly to the test. One key project has been the bespoke manufacture and design of an Optical Ground Support Equipment (OGSE) for RAL Space’s STC-2 and STC-3 simulation chambers. The project was a success and certainly re-affirmed the potential and possibilities of the in-house testing facility.

AEON's facilities now boast a carbon neutral Thermal Vacuum Testing Facility, where clients can off-set the emissions of their project.

Get in touch

Do you have a project that requires our thermal vacuum chamber? Contact us today so we can discuss your project requirements and how we can help.

If you are interested in learning more about our facilities take a look at our brochure.