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What is a climatic chamber?

What is a climatic chamber?

A climatic chamber, also known as an environmental chamber or climate chamber, is an enclosed space used to test the effects of specified environmental conditions on biological items, industrial products, materials, and electronic devices and components.

An environmental test chamber artificially replicates conditions which machinery, materials, devices or components might be exposed to. It is also used to accelerate the effects of exposure to the environment, sometimes at conditions not actually expected.

Climatic chambers can be used:

  • As a stand-alone test for environmental effects on test specimens
  • As preparation of test specimens for further physical tests or chemical tests
  • As environmental conditions for conducting testing of specimens

Environmental chambers come in a variety of sizes ranging from 20 to 400,000 liters. They can be a small room or a much smaller unit that can be placed onto a universal testing machine or other test apparatus.

How does a climatic test chamber work?

A climatic test chamber involves testing and exposing products to various environmental conditions in a controlled setting. Climatic Chamber testing and Thermal Shock testing are part of chamber testing. Climatic Chamber involves a variety of ways to simulate climate or excessive ambient conditions exposure for a product or a material under laboratory-controlled conditions. Thermal Shock testing is used to simulate how materials will react when exposed to changes in extreme climatic conditions, such as going from extremely cold to extremely hot conditions in a very short period of time.

The conditions that products may be exposed to in a climatic chamber include extreme temperatures, sudden and extreme temperature variations, altitude, moisture or relative humidity, electrodynamic vibrations, electromagnetic radiation and more.

Manufactured samples, specimens, or components are placed inside the environmental chamber and subjected to one or more of these environmental parameters to determine reliability or measure after-effects such as corrosion. Many chambers are set at a certain set of conditions. Others can be programmed to cycle through specified sequences of conditions.

In most climatic chambers, heat is generated by resistive heating elements. Larger environmental chambers have self-contained refrigeration systems to provide cold conditions, while smaller units often rely on external supplies of liquid nitrogen (LN2) or liquid carbon dioxide (CO2) for cooling.

To simulate the corrosive effect of the sea, for example, researchers spray a salt solution through a nozzle inside the chamber, creating a fine mist covering the entire product. The humidity in the test chamber can be simulated either by evaporating the water with a heat source or with ultrasound technology.

Where would a climatic test chamber be used?

The main function of an environmental chamber is to test the behaviour of the products we use every day, in extreme climatic conditions. The following applications are examples of how a climatic chamber may be used…

  • Testing of the influence of temperature and humidity on the properties of textiles, building materials, plastics, composites, adhesives, metals, electronic components, etc.
  • Storage of building material test specimens       
  • Incubation of fungal spores on plants under humidity

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