Kirloskar Brothers Limited (KBL) felicitated by ISRO for its Contribution to the Prestigious Hypersonic Wind Tunnel Project

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Pune: Recognising Kirloskar Brothers Limited’s capabilities to execute complex engineering projects amidst challenging environments, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) recently felicitated the leading global fluid management company for successful completion of the project related to cooling piping system at its Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) at Trivandrum in Kerala. At a ceremony to recognise the prestigious vendors for their contribution to accomplish the task of national importance and pride, ISRO Chairman Shri A. S. Kiran Kumar felicitated Mr. 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 Shri Kiran Kumar, commissioning of such facilities would help in future space transportation systems in the country and it will further strengthen our 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 milestone achievement, Mr. 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 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 outside, 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 few countries in the world can boast of.”

Hypersonic Wind Tunnel can simulate flow speeds of Mach 6 to 12 with Reynolds Number up to 80 million per metre, while 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 1550º 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 sump. MSMO, with pressure reduction, is 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 labor issues and very 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.