The Special Prize in The Third Monozukuri Nippon Grand Award
High Quality at Global Level from Japan
The SC Operations of Twinbird Corporation won the Special Prize in The Third Monozukuri Nippon Grand Award (held by Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry), for its development and manufacture of Free-Piston Stirling Coolers (FPSCs).
These prizes, which were established in 2005, are awarded to the persons or entities who have excellently contributed to the development of Japanese industries and culture. The prizes cover wide range of fields, including mining, traditional handicrafts, etc. The prizes are: the Prize of the Prime Minister, the Prize of the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, the Special Prize, and the Prize of Excellence.
The points for which our FPSC won the Special Prize are as follows:
- Twinbird manufactures the World’s first, mass-produced, commercially available, Free-Piston Stirling Cooler: The FPSC. Mass-production of Free-Piston Stirling Coolers had been deemed to be prohibitively difficult for a many years.
- Combined with some advanced technologies, Twinbird has established an original and highly reliable Stirling technology.
- The cooling temperature is freely controllable to -120°C.
- As the FPSC uses Helium gas as the refrigerant, it is environmentally-friendly and non-hazardous to human bodies.
The FPSC is compact and light weight, so therefore lends itself nicely for used in portable refrigerators. Also, it can be used to provide refrigeration in a vehicle with the engine off, because it can be powered for long periods by a battery. In fact, our FPSC technology is used in a wide variety of fields, for example for portable refrigerators in vehicular applications, low temperature cooling boxes for use in physical and chemical sciences and cryosurgical apparatus.
The advantages of FPSC
The FPSC provides high efficiency cooling, especially at low temperature. It can cools down to very low temperatures with low power input. It can be used effectively in places where mains power is not available or in a vehicle, because the power can be supplied by solar or rechargeable battery. It is also suitable for use in portable refrigerators, because it is compact and light weight.
The refrigerant for an FPSC is natural Helium gas, so it does not destroy the ozone layer and therefore does not contribute to global warming. The FPSC is an environmentally-friendly refrigeration technology.
Main features of the FPSC
The FPSC is comprised of a cylinder in which two pistons are installed in series. One of said pistons is actively driven by a linear motor and the other, namely the displacer, is driven indirectly by the pressure fluctuation of the refrigerant (Helium gas).
The Helium gas is adiabatically expanded inside the distal end of the FPSC (expansion space) as the piston and the displacer reciprocate with a controlled phase difference, and the FPSC absorbs heat from the external environment. The absorbed heat is then transported through a series of internal heat exchangers and rejected through external heat exchangers located at the proximal end of the FPSC (compression space). The cycle is then repeated many times per second. In this way, the distal end of the FPSC is cooled.
- Helium gas is used as the refrigerant.
- The displacer and the piston are installed in the same cylinder.
- The piston is driven by a linear motor.
- Absorbs heat by the cycle of alternating compression and expansion of the refrigerant gas.
- Resonant and vibration absorbing mechanism sustained using special springs.
- Heat absorbing rate can be adjusted by changing the amplitude of the piston.
The history of the commercialization of our FPSCs
We commercialized electronic refrigerators using Peltier elements (thermoelectric transducers) first in Japan, in 1991. As this type of a refrigerator has advantageous characteristics in that it is compact, light weight and low noise levels during operation, Twinbird established a market for these small portable refrigerators for outdoor and domestic use. However, Peltier based systems suffer from the problem that their cooling capacity and electrical efficiency is comparatively low.
To solve the above-mentioned problem, Twinbird started the development of Stirling coolers beginning in the 1998. After 5 years of development and testing, we were successful in establishing an effective manufacturing method and were able to verifying the reliability and efficacy of our FPSC products.
The first mass production run of our FPSC line was carried out in 2004. After that, we continued improving the output efficiency, ultra-low temperature capability and to enhance the lineup of our FPSC based products. We can also develop customized products, based on our line of FPSC coolers, according to individual customer's request.