Large chamber for vehicle climatic testing

| Environmental Testing

Millbrook variable temperature emissions chamber
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A climatic chamber has been commissioned at Millbrook for temperature and humidity testing of large and small vehicles.

Millbrook Group has completed work on its large climatic chamber, which 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 and industry standards, ensuring that a vehicle can operate reliably in any operational temperature likely to be encountered across the globe. Testing procedures can be conducted in temperatures as low as -60°C and up to +85°C (both ±2°C), to test a vehicle’s performance in even the harshest environments. This helps to ensure that a vehicle is entirely fit for purpose, functional, dependable and robust.

As well as temperature variance, the chamber can create relative humidity levels from 3% up to 98%, to provide a testing environment that accounts for all eventualities in real-world use. The temperature and humidity settings can be changed during use to simulate how a vehicle may respond to variable day and night conditions. The facility also has solar array compatibility to accurately recreate solar load on a vehicle, in addition to the changing temperatures.

With internal dimensions of 13.7m long, 5.7m wide and 6m high and with a vehicle door opening measuring 5.1m x 5.0m, the facility will comfortably accommodate multiple vehicles, allowing manufacturers to reduce the length of their test programmes and speed up development. As well as batch testing vehicles to fulfil the test requirement, the size of the chamber means that a variety of tests can be undertaken to simulate events with multiple vehicles in extreme climates, such as how the chassis of the vehicle reacts to a knock at below zero temperatures.

“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.”

The size of the chamber is particularly relevant for LCV manufacturers, as it allows for limited movement, facilitating brake 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, making it a facility that will be in high demand from LCV and commercial vehicle manufacturers.

The new facility adds to the company’s cold weather testing capabilities. Its Test World site in Finland 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, from engine performance to door seals and other components such as braking and steering systems and electronic components. 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 across the vehicle.

Durability testing ensures that vehicles continue to perform optimally in extreme conditions, with the chamber allowing for repeated batch testing of vehicles, reducing the time it takes the complete the required number of tests.

The chamber can also serve as an excellent climatic ‘soak’ chamber, capable of taking a vehicle’s temperature to any required extreme, prior to emissions testing with Millbrook’s PEMS equipment.

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