HANOVER, N.H. - The U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s (ERDC) Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL), along with U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) New England District broke ground together for CRREL’s new Climatic Chamber Building Oct. 16 at the Hanover, New Hampshire, campus.
The Climatic Chamber Building will serve as a Material Evaluation Facility. The facility will provide a critical means to examine and test extreme cold-weather environments to develop and validate Army field materiel, which is required for Soldier and unit readiness.
“We’re the only federal laboratory whose mission is primarily focused on the cold regions of our planet,” said Dr. Joseph Corriveau, director of CRREL. “The Climatic Chamber Building provides the team at CRREL with an important new resource for its mission.”
Corriveau says the new facility will allow the laboratory to perform research and development on vehicles and material systems at temperatures as low as negative 54 degrees Celsius. CRREL has never had the capacity to place vehicles in a controlled facility at such extreme low temperatures.
U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, who could not attend the groundbreaking ceremony sent a letter to congratulate CRREL on the event, and Corriveau read the letter to the guests.
“This new facility will be an asset to CRREL as it continues its efforts to better understand our complex relationship with colder climates,” wrote Shaheen. “As international interest in the Arctic grows, it is so important that our country remains a world leader in studying cold regions.”
Shaheen added that CRREL’s research provides assurance that American transportation, infrastructure and communication equipment will function in the harshest Arctic environments on the planet, making the information and data collected at the Hanover campus critical to national security.
The Climatic Chamber Facility consists of a series of modular environmentally controlled chambers to support full-scale testing of military and civil works equipment and systems. To meet current and emerging Department of Defense and national science and technology needs, CRREL is replacing a smaller 990-square-foot facility with the larger modular test-and-evaluation space, which includes rooms capable of simulating wind and precipitation events.
“Ice accumulation on transportation, infrastructure and communication assets creates significant challenges for U.S. military operations in cold environments and increases mission vulnerability in the Arctic,” said Dr. Emily Asenath-Smith, a CRREL research materials engineer program lead for ice adhesion. “The growing focus on Arctic military operations and multi-domain environments means the U.S. Army must stay on the forefront of cutting-edge research in those interest areas.”
Asenath-Smith said that in the new facility, ice adhesion research will focus on transitioning ice mitigation strategies, including passive icing control methods from laboratory-scale to the field, thereby increasing safety and agility of cold regions operations.
U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan took part in the ceremony and thanked Dr. Corriveau for the invitation to attend the event, noting that CRREL’s research and development is essential to keeping the nation safe.
“It helps our military understand the challenge of cold environments, ensuring that we have appropriate technologies and strategies that they operate in,” said Hassan. “It’s important to have a strong and laid out strategy for national defense; it’s important to have the equipment and tools that we need to support our troops.”
Hassan said it’s important to have the knowledge and the capacity to innovate and work as smart and well as possible— and that’s where CRREL’s research comes in.
“You’re doing innovative, cutting-edge work…truly at the forefront of engineering and environmental research,” said Hassan. “This lab is doing vital research to help the Army operate in extreme climates, and this new Climatic Chamber Building will help bolster your efforts.”
The New England District has been responsible for developing the design contract scope of work, awarding an architect engineer task order to complete the design, overseeing the quality of the design with multiple technical reviews and procuring and awarding the construction contract for the Climatic Chamber Building.
“The facility will be capable of rapidly changing temperatures with computer-control precision,” said Col. John Atilano, the New England District commander. “This modular facility with flexibility built in will allow CRREL to adapt to future mission changes as the need arises.”
As the construction moves forward, the New England District will be responsible for the supervision and administration of the construction contract for the duration of the physical work on site.
Atilano thanked the numerous organizations that took part in making the groundbreaking and construction of the Climatic Chamber Building a success, including the local congressional delegation, the CRREL team, the New England District’s project delivery team and many other stakeholders who assiste in bringing the project to this important milestone.
“I can’t stress enough the importance of project partnerships and interagency cooperation in completing a challenging effort like this,” said Atilano. “In the Corps we don’t do anything alone, it’s all about teams and partnerships, and all of you represent that great partnership that we have.”
U.S. Rep. Ann Kuster, who sent her regrets for not being able to attend the event in person, also sent a letter for Corriveau to read during the ceremony.
“I’d like to commend the scientists and researchers for their important contributions to our national defense,” wrote Kuster. “The research you perform ensures our men and women in uniform and protect our freedom and national interests in the most extreme climate conditions.”
“My best wishes on the construction and ground breaking of this state of the art climate chamber,” wrote Kuster. “The Cold Regions Research and Engineering Lab and its employees are all a part of what makes this upper valley community and the Granite State such an incredibly special place.”