Kirloskar Brothers felicitated by ISRO for contribution to hypersonic wind tunnel project
Kirloskar Brothers felicitated by ISRO for contribution to hypersonic wind tunnel project

Kirloskar Brothers felicitated by ISRO for contribution to hypersonic wind tunnel project

Recognising Kirloskar Brothers Limited's capabilities to execute engineering projects amidst challenging environments, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) recently felicitated the fluid management company for completion of a project related to its cooling piping system at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) at Trivandrum.

ISRO Chairman AS Kiran Kumar felicitated Vishnu K, KBL engineer associated with the project, on behalf of KBL's Marine & Defence (M&D) segment.

ISRO recently commissioned a Hypersonic Wind Tunnel at the VSSC at Trivandrum as part of its continuous and concerted efforts to minimise cost of access to space. Notably, the Hypersonic Wind Tunnel at the VSSC facility at Trivandrum is the third largest wind tunnel in terms of size and simulation capability in the world. Kirloskar Brothers Limited (KBL) designed, supplied, erected and commissioned the cooling piping system for this facility through its engineering partner L&T.

According to ISRO Chairman Kiran Kumar, commissioning of such facilities would help in future space transportation systems in the country and further strengthen the country's space venturing capabilities. The facility at VSSC, Trivandrum, has been indigenously designed, developed and 'Made in India' with the support of over 500 Indian companies.

On the company's achievement, Amit Dubey, General Manager, Marine & Defence Sector, Kirloskar Brothers Limited, said, 'It is a matter of great pride for KBL to have achieved recognition from ISRO for its capabilities. The task of commissioning of the Cooling Piping System for the VSSC facility was challenging and the margin of error was nil. With our experience of dealing with similar projects in India and abroad, we executed the project with our engineering partner L&T. This project is special to KBL, as it is a testimony to the country's indigenous engineering capabilities that only a few countries in the world can boast of.'

The Hypersonic Wind Tunnel can simulate flow speeds of Mach 6 to 12 with Reynolds Number up to 80 million per metre, while the shock tunnel can simulate flight velocities up to 4.5 kilometres per second at a maximum stagnation pressure of 350 Bar. Hot Shut-off Valves (HSVs) are the most critical valve components in the Hypersonic Wind Tunnel, operating at high pressures and temperatures as high as 1550¦ K. Other important components of this system include nozzle, test section and diffuser. Contoured nozzles are used to generate Mach 6, 8, 10 and 12 flows.

The cooling system helps to keep the metal temperature within permissible limits (ambient temperature). The HSVs endure high temperature; hence, an elaborate cooling system is required independently for each valve element such as valve body, actuator stem and gate seat ring.

The other system which requires cooling is the 'nozzle system'. The system requires three different ranges from minimum to maximum conditions for three interchangeable nozzle equipment. Extensive discussions were held for the selection of pumps for the HSVs and to fulfill ISRO's stringent requirements and for ease of operation. To achieve this, the number of pumps was minimised by clubbing supply and return lines for multiple valves.

The primary requirement involved meeting the specifications prescribed by ISRO, considering space constraints and operational ability of the system. Therefore, a Multi-Stage Multi-Outlet (MSMO) pump was supplied with appropriate pressure reduction before releasing the water back to the sump. MSMO, with pressure reduction, is the heart of the system and it was KBL's USP for the entire project. KBL designed a system to transfer water from the pump to the HSVs and the nozzles to cool them.

KBL carried out design, supply, erection and commissioning of the entire cooling piping system despite labour issues and a challenging work environment. The necessary changes in the design and re-routing were carried out during the implementation as per the site condition. The project was completed in time without any trouble.

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