Millbrook Group has completed work on its large climatic chamber. It is used for conducting environmental tests on passenger cars and LCVs, as well as commercial, public service, and military vehicles.
The chamber is capable of testing to customer specifications as well as military and industry standards. It can be used to conduct procedures in temperatures as low as -60°C, and up to +85°C (both ±2°C), to test a vehicle’s performance in even the most extreme temperatures found across the globe. That is supported by being able to create relative humidity levels from 3% up to 98%.
The temperature and humidity settings can be changed during use to simulate how a vehicle may respond to changing day and night conditions – which are particularly variable in desert and arctic terrains. The facility also has solar array compatibility to accurately recreate solar load on a vehicle.
At 13.7m long, 5.7m wide and 6m high (internal measurements), and with a vehicle door opening measuring 5.1m x 5.0m, the facility can easily accommodate a double decker bus or a large capacity tipper truck.
As well as batch testing passenger car vehicles to fulfil the test requirement and reduce development cycles, the size of the chamber means tests can be undertaken to ensure the vehicle remains reliable in a variety of settings. This includes durability testing of components and materials in icy or humid conditions.
“The possibilities for testing in the facility are so varied, and there are very few limitations outside of the physical specifications,” said Darren Williams, principal engineer – test methodologies at Millbrook. “For example, testing functionality of doors is a key, yet lengthy element of new vehicle development. The size of this facility means that time can be cut by a factor of five for some applications.”
Darren Williams continued: “When considering a public service vehicle, a key benefit is being able to test the retaining function of doors in any temperature to ensure reliability in service. For the defence industry, the same concept can be applied to the function of a turret, which simply has to remain reliable in any temperature when out in the field.”
The size of the chamber is particularly relevant for light commercial vehicle manufacturers, as it allows for limited movement, facilitating brakes tests or for testing parking components at extreme temperatures. It is the first chamber of its type in the UK with the scale to undertake tests of this type with larger vehicles.
The new facility adds to the company’s cold weather testing capabilities. Its proving ground in Finland, Test World, offers indoor and outdoor testing facilities with guaranteed natural snow and ice all year round.
Changeable weather conditions or extreme climates can have a considerable impact on a wide range of vehicle functions, including door seals, materials used in the vehicle such as plastics, and systems such as air conditioning. As well as testing vehicle start reliability at extreme temperatures, the large climatic chamber can be utilised for functional testing to help ensure reliability of components.
The chamber can also serve as an excellent climatic ‘soak’ chamber, capable of taking a vehicle’s temperature to any required extreme. That can be done prior to emissions testing with Millbrook’s PEMS equipment, gauging the effect of temperature on the emissions discharged by a vehicle.
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