The global cryocooler market size was valued at USD 2.93 billion in 2021. It is projected to reach USD 5.52 billion by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 7.30% during the forecast period (2022-2030). A mechanical refrigerator called a cryocooler is used to cool down an application to cryogenic temperatures. Cryogenic temperatures are often defined as below 123 K, equal to -150°C or -238°F. Several physical phenomena start to diverge from their behavior at room temperature and below, and new phenomena have more significance. As a result, the field of cryogenics often calls for a whole new set of specialized skills, operating limitations, and testing procedures. The science and engineering required to achieve cryogenic temperatures, in our case, creating cryogenic freezers known as cryocoolers, is one of the unique characteristics of cryogenics. In defense applications, cryocoolers are widely employed, mainly to cool infrared focal planes.
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Growing Medical and Healthcare Services in Developing Economies
The global cryocoolers market has been growing due to the rising demand for cryocoolers in the healthcare industry. Due to their widespread use in MRI systems, cryosurgery, proton treatment, and the liquefaction of oxygen in hospitals, cryocoolers are in high demand. A cryocooler's capacity to chill the atmosphere depends on a number of the circulating gas's thermodynamic characteristics. Due to the continuously changing technology in the healthcare industry, developed economies have been a significant source of demand for the global cryocooler market.
Due to their extensive use in proton therapy, MRI systems, cryosurgery, and the liquefaction of oxygen in hospitals, cryocoolers are easily installed in the healthcare sector. Particle therapy, known as proton therapy, precisely aims proton beams at cancer cells. Proton treatment extensively uses high-power superconducting magnets that have been cryocooled to liquid helium temperatures. The United States spent most of its gross domestic product (GDP) on health care among OECD members in 2019.
Performance Constraint of Cryocoolers
One of the most challenging components of space thermal system design is creating spacecraft thermal management systems that depend on reliable cryocooler operation. Most developers rely on a relatively limited data set on cryocooler performance when making system-level trade-offs. Time restrictions imposed by system development timetables or follow-on cooler development schedules are another common reason why off-design point performance mapping is constrained. However, a significant amount of off-nominal performance mapping has enabled empirical modeling of measurable parametric correlations when describing cryocoolers at the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). These models connect the links between crucial cryocooler operational and environmental characteristics, creating accurate performance prediction techniques that are practical for most conceivable operating ranges.
Six design parameters primarily determine the performance of a Stirling cryocooler include speed, pressure constraints, working fluid temperature in the compression and expansion spaces, the ratio of compression and expansion space swept volumes, the ratio of total dead volume and expansion space swept volume, and phase angle between compression space and expansion space volume variations. In order to maximize performance, a cryocooler's cycle and loss analysis should be considered.
Expanding Liquefied Natural Gas Production
The cryocooler market is expanding due to factors including increased liquefied natural gas production and the rising use of cryocoolers throughout the semiconductor sector. Circor (CSA CSM) has established new benchmarks for a hydrogen-powered world. Additionally, several new resources and technologies have significantly reduced the cost of equipment while also enhancing safety, performance, and efficiency. These are all indications that liquid hydrogen (LH2) and liquified natural gas/compressed natural gas (LNG/CNG) can be helpful as alternate energy sources for the deployment of cryocoolers.
Small liquid natural gas (LNG) distribution stations need to install tiny, highly efficient cryocoolers to reliquefy boil-off gas in the LNG tank. Low input electric power increases power to 10 kW, where the cryocooler produces around 1.2 kW of cooling at 120 K, and the relative Carnot efficiency exceeds 20%. It is possible to condense about 295 typical cubic meters of boil-off natural gas daily. This innovation provides a practical, manageable, dependable arrangement for LNG distribution stations to save energy.
The global cryocooler market is segmented by end-user vertical.
Based on The End-User Vertical, the global market is bifurcated into space, healthcare, military, commercial, transportation, and others.
The healthcare segment owns the highest market share and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7.95% during the forecast period. The expansion of healthcare and medical services in emerging nations and the scarcity of helium gas are primarily responsible for the market growth of cryocoolers. The development of new cooling techniques for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) systems has been made possible by developments in cryocooler technology over the past many years. Open cycle operation of MRI systems using a Gifford-McMahon (GM) cycle cryocooler to cool two thermal shields, one at 20 K and the other at 80 K, has been the usual approach utilized to reduce helium use in these systems. Additionally, modern hospitals and cancer treatment facilities use proton therapy as a treatment tool. In contrast, MRI is a diagnostic tool in the healthcare sector.
Due to its benefits, such as its ability to operate at lower or higher temperatures with proportionally lower or larger heat loads, cryocoolers are in considerable demand in the space industry. Cryocoolers are typically utilized in planetary science, space astronomy, surveillance, missile defense, and Earth science applications. The first cryocooler was utilized in 1965 during the Apollo mission. Since then, its potential for widespread application has increased. The expansion of space science projects, which need several criteria, including lightweight material, densification, and low thermal noise, is anticipated to cause the space segment to experience considerable growth during the forecast period. This will support the development of the nation's space industry in the upcoming years.
In the military, there is a growing need for cryocoolers to maintain the cryogenic temperatures required by IR sensors in satellite surveillance and night vision systems. In the military, cryocoolers are also employed for missile guidance and satellite surveillance. Cryocooler technology, for instance, is installed on the USS Gerald R Ford of the United States Navy aircraft carrier. Satellites are used for civil and military reasons and are a crucial component of the global navigation and communications infrastructure. The usage of cryocoolers in space systems and microsatellites for satellite-based surveillance is another factor driving the growth of the cryocooler market. In the coming years, cryocooler producers should have more opportunities due to improved efficiency and expanded characteristics like signal/noise ratio, detector sensitivity for EOs, and IR applications in microsatellites.
Small-sized cryocooler producers have potential due to the rising demand for cooling down IR sensors used in infrared thermography, which has critical applications. An infrared or thermal imaging camera is significantly used in mid-IR sensors, quickly being incorporated into space exploration activities for data mining and image sensing. For example, James Webb Space Telescope will be launched by NASA in 2021, according to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Additionally, since thermal noise limits the sensitivity of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectrometers, cryogenically cooled probes with cryocoolers are employed to boost the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). NMR is being utilized more frequently for small molecule applications like metabonomic, which offers features that help with drug discovery.
The global cryocooler market is divided into four regions, namely North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and LAMEA.
Asia-Pacific Dominates the Global Market
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Asia-Pacific is the most significant shareholder in the global cryocooler market and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 8.10% during the forecast period. A significant commercial application of cryocoolers in the liquefaction, transport and storage of natural gas enables the effective transport of large volumes of natural gas by drastically reducing the volume (by more than a factor of 600) between natural gas at atmospheric pressure and temperature and LNG. According to the International Gas Union, Japan had the most excellent liquefied natural gas (LNG) regasification capacity in the world in 2020, with 210.5 MTA as of February 2020, or 25% of the world's regasification capacity. Despite the fact that China will soon begin receiving LNG through pipelines from Russia, this growth is expected to slow down.
North America is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 7.70%, generating USD 1.85 billion during the forecast period. Cryocoolers are in great demand in the healthcare industry in North America due to their widespread use in MRI systems, cryosurgery, proton therapy, and oxygen liquefaction in hospitals. The primary research organizations are focused on treating solid tumors, lung cancer, and leukemia. The region is a leading global creator of innovative cancer medications and quickly evolving technology, including cryocooler devices. As cryocoolers are primarily used for proton therapy in cancer treatment, the cryocooler market in the North American region has expanded. In the medical field, cryocoolers are primarily used in MRI scanners and other similar applications. American government space agencies have spent substantial money on research and development to bring cutting-edge cryogenic cooling technology to market.
The demand for cryocoolers in the healthcare industry in Europe is rising quickly due to the extensive usage of proton therapy as a treatment strategy now used by cutting-edge hospitals and cancer treatment facilities. Superconducting characteristics are present in powerful magnets used in proton therapy. Cryocoolers are required to cool these magnets to liquid helium temperatures. Many cancer treatment facilities and hospitals are investing in or considering this life-saving technology due to the rising number of cancer patients. During the projected period, this is anticipated to impact market demand.
Latin America and the Middle East and Africa are included in the rest of the world. Due to their widespread use in cryosurgery, MRI systems, proton treatment, and oxygen liquefaction in hospitals, cryocoolers are in higher demand in the healthcare sector. Cryocoolers are being used by numerous businesses in the medical and healthcare sectors to provide cutting-edge therapies. An all-solid-state optical refrigerator that runs at cryogenic temperatures and has no moving parts was recently demonstrated by an expert panel from the University of New Mexico and the Los Alamos National Laboratory Laboratory. Solid-state cryocooling is an optical phenomenon that uses anti-Stokes fluorescence in specific materials. In this technique, a material that has been excited by a laser fluoresces later with mean energy somewhat higher than that of the exciting laser and at a shorter wavelength.
List of top key global cryocooler market companies