11. December 2023

Gas bearing extreme: When winter temperatures suddenly seem cozy and warm

Temperatures well under -200°C and rotational speed beyond 200,000 rotations per minute ─ extreme requirements, easy solutions. On point prototype and product development with Celeroton technologies. But what application areas involve such requirements? And are there solid solutions for them and other special areas? An interview with project manager “Cryogenic applications” Patrik Fröhlich and team leader “Motor and compressor development” Dr.-Ing. Fabian Dietmann.

Mr. Fröhlich: until now, Celeroton has mainly been active in the field of air systems. How did the new area of application come about?

Celeroton has implemented numerous projects in application areas with inert gas in the past. These include refrigerant applications as well as compressor systems for very specific gases in chemical and other industries (High density turbo compressors for noble gases & Turbo compressors in gas separation plants). Recently, we have received an increasing number of inquiries from the cryogenics sector, particularly for expansion turbines, which has expanded our know-how in this area. This demanding technology niche fits our company profile, where our technology can provide solutions that can’t be found elsewhere in the market.

Mr. Dietmann: the technical requirements in this application case are truly extreme. What do you think is the key to robust technical solutions?

Such complex tasks can only be solved through comprehensive consideration of all relevant criteria. Starting with the materials and thermal aspects, the bearing and motor technologies, the aerodynamics of the turbine, right through to the design. Especially the herringbone bearing technology of the gas bearings that Celeroton uses, provides an unbeatable advantage in these conditions.

What makes the bearing technology so special?

In comparison to other bearing technologies, the properties of Celeroton’s bearing can be calculated even at temperatures under 80 K. This way developments can be carried out with accuracy for special applications – without long and costly trial-and-error iterations as is sometimes required with other gas bearing technologies. In addition, our in-house test setup allows us to directly validate the expected performance data at cryogenic temperatures, achieving rapid and qualified progress in new areas.

If you both look ahead, where is the Cryogenics journey going, and how does it fit in the portfolio of Celeroton?

The various pillars of Celeroton and the range of products and solutions evolving with it covers a wide segment. We consider a combination in which the experience in the space sector can be combined with that of cryogenics to be very promising. In addition, a focus on cryogenic applications in small to medium quantities for the chemical and other industries is promising. Last but not least, the megatrend hydrogen and its liquefaction for mobility purposes excites us. In order to use hydrogen economically in the mobility sector, it has to be liquefied in large quantities, which in turn requires corresponding industrial plants. For this case, expansion turbines that operate at temperatures of 20K can be used. The hydrogen is then used in fuel cell systems, for which Celeroton offers turbo compressor systems.

Does your application also have extreme requirements and needs a high-density compressor for conveying noble gases? Would you like to benefit from the weight and size potential of Celeroton high-speed technology when transporting or recirculating argon, xenon, nitrogen, neon or helium? Our sales team looks forward to hearing from you via moc.notorelec@ofni or +41 44 250 52 20.