17. November 2023 | Press releases:

NFL awards researcher prize and two young talent awards Research Day of the Aeronautics Research Centre Niedersachsen

New approaches to the active disposal of space debris, the automated design of wind turbines and a better understanding of permeation processes – three research projects in different areas of aerospace research are contributing to these themes. The researchers were awarded the Hermann Blenk Research Prize, the Karl Doetsch Young Scientist Prize and the VDI Aerospace Prize. The awards were presented at the Research Day of the Aeronautics Research Centre Niedersachsen (NFL) on 16 November.

Hermann Blenk Research Prize for Dr Mohamed Khalil Ben Larbi

Dr Mohamed Khalil Ben Larbi worked at the Institute of Space Systems at Technische Universität Braunschweig on a new approach to removing space debris from Earth’s orbit. In order to avoid an unstable space debris environment, it will be necessary in the future to actively remove objects from orbit. This is known as Active Debris Removal, or ADR for short. The development of a novel, CubeSat-compatible ADR technology for the removal of space debris objects offers a cost-effective solution.

However, because miniature satellites such as CubeSats (which consist of cube-shaped modules with a side length of 10 cm) cannot carry powerful equipment for close-range operations due to their size and limited power generation capacity, Dr Ben Larbi’s thesis focused on tailor-made solutions for approaching and docking with such space debris objects. In particular, he focused on automatic docking with free-floating targets using so-called gecko materials. To this end, he carried out several ground-based tests using a microgravity simulator based on an active air bearing table. His research culminated in a test of his experiments on the International Space Station (ISS), monitored and carried out by several astronauts. Dr Ben Larbi is also the first person to have successfully tested automatic docking to a free-floating target in orbit using Gecko materials. Dr Ben Larbi’s work has therefore been awarded this year’s Hermann Blenk Research Prize, worth 5,000 euros.

Karl Doetsch Young Scientist Award for Philipp Seelemeyer

In his master’s thesis at the Institute of Aerodynamics and Flow Technology at the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) in Braunschweig, Philipp Seelemeyer made a significant contribution to the automated aerodynamic design of wind turbines. He developed a parametric rotor model within a CAD-in-the-loop process chain. By combining parametric geometry generation with a CAD tool and fast mesh generation through code-based automation, he was able to reduce the engineering effort required from the concept phase to flow simulation to a fraction of the time.

Within the parametrics, the basic geometric relationships on the rotor, such as angle of attack, airfoil shape and radial positioning, are varied using a design table, eliminating the need to manually create a CAD model for each new geometry configuration. Once the geometry has been created, the mesh generation required for flow simulation follows seamlessly and efficiently. This technology not only speeds up the creation of individual flow simulations, but also enables recursive modification of designs.

In this way, Seelemeyer has successfully laid the foundations for the implementation of a closed-loop optimisation cycle for wind turbines. For this work, Philipp Seelemeyer received the Karl Doetsch Young Talent Award worth €1,000. Seelemeyer will graduate in 2022 with a master’s degree in aerospace engineering from Technische Universität Braunschweig.

VDI Aerospace Award for Malte Schuchard

Malte Schuchard’s Master’s thesis dealt with the characterisation of a mobile, highly stable and adjustable gas humidification system based on the permeation principle. The mobile gas humidification system at the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) in Braunschweig was the focus of the investigation. Schuchard humidified a gas stream and analysed influencing factors such as temperature, gas flow velocity and plastic tubing material with regard to permeation behaviour.

For the experimental investigations to characterise the system, he designed a test setup with the dTDLAS hygrometer SEALDH in the PTB laboratory. He also tested the long-term stability of the permeation generator and developed optimisation proposals for the design of the generator. Finally, he checked the measurement results with a model of the permeation generator, thus gaining a better understanding of the complex permeation processes.

The work was carried out as part of a collaboration between PTB and the Institute of Flight Guidance at TU Braunschweig. Malte Schuchard successfully completed his master’s degree in mechanical engineering at TU Braunschweig last year.