Thomas Grönstedt, Chalmers University of Technology

You had a project approved by Finep-Vinnova. Can you tell us more about it (your goals, achievements so far etc.)?

The project is called INFLOPROP and is a collaborative project between ITA, Chalmers, Embraer and GKN [British company considered the world's leading aerospace supplier in multi-level 1 technology]. It analyzes the design of aircraft propellers and especially how these propellers would operate in flow disturbed by layer boundaries generated around the structure of the aircraft. We are developing tier-level ingestion system assessments as well as optimizing geometry based on CFD simulations.

A few years ago, you involved a Chalmers student in Embraer's master's program. Please comment on the results achieved so far.

This was a work carried out as a summer activity by a Chalmers student enrolled in the fluid track of our master's program in Applied Mechanics: Gonzalo Montero Villar. Gonzalo worked on the development of propeller models using the MIT QPROP code. We analyzed the integration of the propulsion together with Embraer, showing that this could be a future basis of collaboration between Chalmers and Embraer. I also hope to see similar follow-up on exchange activities as part of the newly launched Swedish Aeronautical Research Center (SARC). The project demonstrated that we could have Swedish students involved in the Embraer industrial master program. So far, it was the first time a European student was involved in the program.

Please comment on the importance of bridging the gap between industry and universities.

It really is a mutual benefit that comes up. Often the industry has the relevant issues in an applied field. Without the industrial input, aeronautical research at universities can address outdated or irrelevant issues. Universities can also propose concepts and develop ideas that have potential but fail in other practical subjects. For example, a new type of engine has no merit if it can not be certified or if the added weight or complexity does not consider the benefits of the saved fuel. For the industry, the value lies in training highly competent future employees and often also brings some fundamental scientific perspectives to technology development, something that often creates innovations.

What are your expectations for the next years of working with Brazilian researchers?

The University of Chalmers has the ambition of advancing on the educational side of aeronautics. We already have a good base of collaboration with ITA, but we should also think about how to collaborate in a broader network of universities. Propulsion-related research may play a more important role in Brazil than in the past, which, of course, is something we consider a good starting point for collaboration.