SSC-Natick Press ReleaseU.S. Army Soldier Systems
Public Affairs Office
Contact: Public Affairs Office
Date: February 19, 2008
Chamber hits new low
A monitor shows the temperature
in the Arctic Chamber in the Doriot Climatic Chambers at the
U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center in Natick, Mass. During recent
testing, the Chamber reached a new low of minus 78 degrees below
zero. (Courtesy photo) |
Click for Larger Photo
NATICK, Mass. -- During
the week of Jan. 28, the Doriot Climatic Chambers at the U.S. Army
Soldier Systems Center (SSC) got a workout.
The Doriot Climatic Chambers are a facility that can reproduce
environmental conditions occurring anywhere around the world. They
can simulate temperature, humidity, wind, rainfall and solar
radiation. These conditions can be setup separately or run
The Army, which owns and operates this facility, uses it as part of
the SSC’s research and development mission ensuring that gear being
developed for Soldiers can survive the rigors of world-wide extreme
The Doriot Climatic Chambers are a unique testing facility, allowing
the Army to conduct equipment and human-performance testing in a
laboratory environment, where they can manage precise climatic
conditions over extended periods of time.
But this particular test was not being conducted for, nor was it
funded by the Army. This evaluation was paid by and conducted by ABB
Inc., Mount Pleasant, Pa., under a program that allows the military
to lease their facilities to private sector companies.
ABB Inc., a private electrical contractor, took advantage of this
program to evaluate their equipment at temperature extremes in the
Arctic Wind Tunnel of the Climatic Chambers from Jan. 28 to Feb. 1.
The Arctic Wind Tunnel has the ability to create temperatures
ranging from minus 70 degrees below zero to 120 degrees F with 10 to
90 percent relative humidity. Rain can be simulated at rates up to
four inches per hour with wind up to 40 miles per hour.
“Last year the company [ABB] found out we had the capabilities they
needed to do the testing,” said Joshua Bulotsky, electrical
engineer. “We were able to do some testing for them at the extreme
capabilities they needed last year, and although they got some good
data, they needed more in order to finalize their design.”
Large high voltage circuit breakers were the items that were put
through the trials. “These items would be used in extreme cold
weather areas, such as Northern China, Canada, anywhere where the
temperature would be below minus 50 degrees [F] and have winds,”
said Steve Ryan, manager, Total Quality, ABB.
Jason Stull, development engineer, ABB, said, “The benefit of doing
this type of test here [in the Climatic Chambers] is the wind
application. You can simulate cold with gas, but [SSC] is one of the
few places that also has wind. Wind has a big impact on
Testing was done from zero degrees F to 45 degrees below zero and
from zero degrees F to 78 degrees below zero, ultimately making it
the coldest temperature that the Arctic Wind Tunnel has ever been
at. The wind speeds ranged from 3 to 35 miles per hour.
Ryan said people often take circuit breakers for granted. They are
items you don’t usually see, he continued, because they are often
located in substations or remote areas. However, he said that if the
gas gets too cold in the breakers, the breakers go into lockout
operation and you can’t open them until they warm up again. This
could shut down power for an entire section of a city.
“This type of testing allows us to further exhibit the reliability
of the product,” said Ryan. “This year we did modifications to
adjust the power supply,” he commented. “We used a different heating
and insulation package.”
ABB needed to see what impact these changes would have in extreme
environments. “They needed to see where there might be problems and
try to resolve them,” Bulotsky said.
He also mentioned that within the past year, new mechanical
equipment has been installed in the Chambers, along with updated
computer control systems in the Arctic Wind Tunnel monitoring room
and even new flat screen TVs to display graphics.
This year the Chambers have been performing even better than
previous years due to the new mechanical equipment and also
upgrades, Bulotsky continued. Because of this, the researchers from
ABB had gotten a significant amount of good data by the fourth day
of their five-day test. The fifth day became almost a bonus day.
Ryan and Stull both described the personnel at SSC as extremely
professional and helpful. “Whatever we wanted, within the
limitations of the equipment, we got,” said Stull, “even if it was
late nights or early mornings.”
The Doriot Climatic Chambers also has a Tropic Wind Tunnel. The
Tropic Wind Tunnel has the ability to create temperatures ranging
from 0 to 165 degrees F with 10 to 90 percent relative humidity.
Rain can be simulated at up to 4 inches per hour with wind up to 40
miles per hour. Solar load can be simulated with a system consisting
of six rows of 250-watt light bulbs.
Due to law 10 U.S.C. § 2539b, the SSC is now able to offer testing
services to private industry such as ABB. And because SSC is a
government research, development and engineering center, no profit
is earned on testing services.
Therefore, private companies looking to
evaluate products can do them in the unique testing facilities of
the Chambers for low-cost, with highly rated and experienced staff
available, along with state-of-the-art equipment..
For more information or to inquire about using the Chambers for an
upcoming project, please send an email to: