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The pressure of the cryogen within a Dewar determines the operating temperature since the cryogen is typically in a saturated state. Thus, the operating temperature of a Dewar is directly related to the ambient pressure external to the Dewar and the flow losses associated with venting cryogen. Given the low vapor pressures of some cryogens, such as solid hydrogen, the vent flow from Dewars used in space can enter the transitional and molecular flow regimes. In order to accurately predict the operating temperature within such Dewars, the analysis tool used to model the cryostat must account for free molecular and mixed flow losses as well as those for continuum flow.

As part of our analysis of Dewar designs for the James Webb Space Telescope Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI), we modified the continuum flow modeling capability of SINDA/FLUINT to accurately predict the pressure drop due to transitional and molecular flow in the MIRI Dewar vent line. This paper describes the modifications made to the flow loss computations within the analyzer and the testing conducted to verify these modifications.

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Topsfield Engineering Service, Inc.
Russell B. Schweickart and Gary Mills