Putting Power Supplies to the Test of Extreme Environmental Conditions

Reliable performance in the military and transportation industries means power equipment needs to work in some of the most extreme conditions on earth (and in space). When you’re up in the mountains or in the depths of the ocean, mission-critical equipment cannot fail.

Power supplies used in these harsh environments must go through rigorous testing and meet specific standards to confirm that they will perform under five extreme environmental conditions:

1. Extreme Vibration
Extreme vibration occurs on airplanes, naval vessels, and spacecraft. Power equipment must be able to withstand ongoing exposure to extreme vibration, not just short bursts. Furthermore, power equipment must be manufactured to withstand the right level of vibration which varies depending on where the equipment is used. There are five levels of vibration:

  • Space vehicle – Zero vibration
  • Naval shipboard – The lowest level of vibration (slightly greater than what you’d feel in a car)
  • Ground mobile – 3 ½ times stronger than naval shipboard vibration (equal to going off-road in a 4-wheel drive vehicle)
  • Fixed wing – equal to ground mobile vibration
  • Rotary wing – 5 times stronger than ground mobile and fixed wing vibration and 20 times stronger than naval shipboard vibration

2. Extreme Shock
Mechanical shock is caused by sudden impact, such as a drop, kick, earthquake, or explosion. Therefore, power equipment must be tested to ensure it can withstand mechanical shock. For military equipment, the standard test for large units was developed during World War II and simulates a depth charge going off under a ship. During tests on Abbott Technologies’ units, shock levels as high as 200Gs have been recorded. For small units, tests are performed by hitting units with a giant sledgehammer.

3. Extreme Moisture
Moisture of any kind will damage power supplies but traditional protection methods can add size and weight. In an aircraft or submarine where space is tight and weight must be minimized, power supplies have to be small, light, and completely protected from moisture. This requires special manufacturing materials and processes. “Abbott Technologies specializes in creating products that can withstand extreme moisture,” explains Dave Newton, Abbott Technologies’ Chief Engineer. “Unlike competitors’ products, most of Abbott’s flagship products must survive immersion testing.”

4. Extreme Radiation
Extreme radiation is a concern, particularly for the military. Solar radiation and electromagnetic radiation can cause problems for power supplies that aren’t built and tested to withstand them. Furthermore, military power equipment must be capable of surviving the effects of nuclear radiation. During a nuclear detonation, EMP poses a significant threat to military equipment and can cause equipment degradation or failure.

5. Extreme Temperature
Power supplies utilized by the military and transportation organizations are used around the world where temperatures can range from blisteringly hot to well below freezing. From the Antarctic to the Mojave Desert, power supplies need to perform reliably or the results could be disastrous. Abbott Technologies offers a full line of power supplies that are built to perform reliably in all of these extreme environmental conditions. Visit Abbott-Tech.com to learn more.