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UC3M inaugurates a new Aerospace Engineering research laboratory


Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) has inaugurated a new Aerospace Engineering research laboratory which features two important scientific facilities: a hydrodynamic tunnel and a vacuum test chamber.

Laboratorio de Ingeniería Aeroespacial

The opening ceremony for these facilities was held on the Leganes campus on May 25, presided over by UC3M Rector, Juan Romo, and with the presence of several University academic officers, the head of the Space and Defense departments at the company SENER Ingeniería y Sistemas, together with representatives from the UC3M Bioengineering and Aerospace Engineering Departments.

Hydrodynamic Tunnel

The hydrodynamic tunnel is a facility for testing flow around moving bodies in controlled and reproducible conditions.  It not only allows testing the hydrodynamics of bodies designed to function when submerged under water, but also any fluid, and with correct experimental design, permits study of the aerodynamics of flying objects

The tunnel is equipped with a volumetric particle image velocimetry (PIV) system which enables fluid to be seeded with micrometer particles that are illuminated with a high power strobe and then their displacement  tracked, all of which is captured on camera.  As it is a volumetric measurement system, it is able to study complex and three-dimensional phenomena such as turbulence.  

Vacuum Test Facility

The vacuum test chamber is specially designed for research into space plasma propulsion which is the solution with the best future prospects for satellite propulsion and space probes. Likewise, it is a strategic area of research in the European Union H2020 program.

The chamber, which is 1.5 meters in diameter and 3 meters in length, with a capacity of extraction of xenon or argon of up to 37,000 liters per second, is a unique facility in Spain for these applications.  During its inauguration, a helicon thruster HPT05 prototype, developed in conjunction with SENER, was switched on.

Both of the facilities were financed within the area of the competitive bid “Adquisición de Equipamiento Científico-Técnico 2013 - Subprograma Estatal de Infraestructuras Científicas y Técnicas, y Equipamiento” (Acquisition of Scientific-Technical Equipment 2013-Government Sub-program for Scientific and Technical Infrastructures and Equipment) from the MINECO (The Spanish Ministry of the Economy and Competitiveness).