Tomas Grönstedt is the Director of Chalmers' newly established competence center TechForH2 whose overall purpose is to develop new technology in hydrogen propulsion as a step in the transition to a fossil-free transport system. For him, the newly inaugurated compressor brings new and great possibilities for future tests in the field.
“The scientific community and industry have tried to increase the electrification of aviation in order to reach the climate goals set by EU. But it hasn't worked. Batteries are very good but cannot offer enough range for heavier vehicles. Which is why we thought of the idea to use hydrogen as a way to increase the range. An electric-powered airplane would be able to travel 500 kilometers at most. With hydrogen, the range could increase to 3,000 kilometers,” explains Tomas.
With the completion of the compressor facility, the wind tunnel lab now houses three test rigs, which will broaden the possibilities for research and testing in even more application areas than today. And in recent years, hydrogen research has been of particular interest in the lab. Valery Chernoray talks about application areas for the research carried out in the lab
“Recently, we’ve had three projects related to hydrogen in the lab and in the last three years we’ve had a total of 31 research projects in total with application areas in, for example, wind power, the shipping industry and the aviation industry, just to name a few - all aiming to make the world more environmentally friendly,” says Valery Chernoray.
When it was time for question time, the crowd was particularly keen to know more about the construction details of the rig as well as its functionality.
“The compressor is a little over 1.2 m in diameter with several hundred blades, all made by very advanced manufacturing techniques. A problem with vertical design is the risk of dropping a screw into the compressor. Even if you use safety devices, it actually happened once and then I had to pick it up with the help of a magnet,” says Isak in front of a laughing audience and continues:
“We normally run it at approximately 2,000 revolutions per minute and we test it for 10 - 12 hours straight, which means we have to work in shifts.”
And the new facility sure seems to have sparked an interest among the invited guests.
“Having the opportunity to collaborate with Chalmers in research projects like these is a crucial argument in the conversations we have with our customers in the aviation industry. When we can get access to "hard core evidence" from research, we may also position GKN ahead of our competitors on the world map,” says Henrik Runemalm from GKN Aerospace.
Text: Lovisa Håkansson