Oerlikon Leybold Vacuum gained an order for the manufacturing of a batch of cryogenic vacuum pumps of the series COOLVAC 60.000 for the evacuation of space simulation chambers.

These pumps, with a flange diameter of 1.3m and a pumping rate of 60,000 litres per second for nitrogen, are being manufactured presently at the Dresden site of Oerlikon Leybold Vacuum. Cryo pumps are used wherever very large vacuum chambers need to be evacuated very rapidly to extremely low pressures, offering high pumping rates and an attainable vacuum of down to 10-12 mbar. The major field of application for the pump is the aerospace industry, where rocket elements, satellites, space shuttles or space station parts need to be examined in giant simulation chambers.

There, simulations can be run in tests for vacuum tightness, for example, or for resistance to the extremes in the cosmos between low temperatures of a few Kelvin (approx. −270 °C) in the shade and direct solar radiation. Major customers for these cryo pumps are those nations with a strong aerospace programme such as the USA, China, India and above all the European States with the European Space Agency ESA.

The COOLVAC series of cryo pumps are gas-binding vacuum pumps for the high vacuum pressure range of 10-3 mbar to 10-11 mbar. These pumps work on the principle that gaseous substances become bound to cold surfaces inside the pump by cryogenic condensation, cryo sorption or cryo trapping. To produce a high or ultra-high vacuum, all cold surfaces must be cooled to a sufficiently low temperature. Depending on the type of cooling system used, a distinction is made between refrigerator cryo pumps, bath cryo pumps and evaporator cryo pumps. Oerlikon Leybold Vacuum manufactures exclusively refrigerator-cooled cryo pumps.

Oerlikon Leybold Vacuum Dresden manufactures vacuum equipment and machines for producing ultra-low temperatures. The product range includes small cooling units, cryo vacuum pumps and helium compressors that are successfully used in vacuum technology, superconductors, medical engineering and research. Oerlikon Leybold cryotech products are used across the globe at all scales, from research lab to industrial application.

In addition to these cryo pumps, Oerlikon Leybold Vacuum Dresden also manufactures the integrated cold producers within them, the so-called cold heads. The models differ in the lowest achievable temperature and the cooling power achieved at that temperature level. Oerlikon Leybold manufactures at the highest technological level in the temperature range of down to 4.2 K and at cooling powers of up to several hundred Watts at 80 K.

In the future, cryo technology will also play an important role for the relatively new superconductor technologies. Below a certain temperature, the so-called transition temperature, certain materials become superconductive, meaning the material conducts electrical current with no resistance at all. Again, Oerlikon Leybold Vacuum cold heads are used for cooling.

At present, the majority of applications for lossless transmission of energy are still in the prototype stage within the field of power engineering. Yet generators and motors with superconducting rotors allow for compact designs that achieve significantly higher efficiencies and will offer growth potential for industrial applications.

“We are proud that our competence as a solutions provider for this specific technology is recognised in such an important technological field, and that we can therefore be a part of future-oriented research and development,” says Dr. Martin Füllenbach, CEO of Oerlikon Leybold Vacuum.