CSIR, Airbus research ‘eco’ planes

18 February 2008

South Africa’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has entered into a partnership with commercial aircraft maker Airbus to conduct research into new technologies and processes in the area of computational fluid dynamics (CFD).

The CSIR said in a statement last week that the one-year agreement, with an approximate value of around R1.5-million, aims to research and define technologies in numerical modelling that can make an important contribution to the design of clean and efficient next-generation jetliners.

The project forms part of Airbus’s research and technology partnership with South Africa, which was launched in 2006. Through the project, the CSIR is now a member of Airbus’s global research and technology network.

The project will see South African aeronautics engineers playing a vital role in the development of mathematical software intended to aid Airbus in the design and manufacture of next-generation aircraft aimed at providing a more eco-efficient means of travel.

Airbus research and technology senior vice president Axel Krein said the project demonstrated his company’s recognition of both the CSIR and South Africa’s capabilities in hi-tech engineering science and technology, adding that harnessing knowledge from around the world was the only answer to managing air transport growth while reducing its impact on the environment.

“Computational mechanics is an extremely exciting field where the sky is no longer the limit, but the next frontier,” Krein said. “The CSIR believes it has a valuable contribution to make in furthering understanding and developing solutions in this science.”

CSIR computational aerodynamics principal researcher Dr Arnaud Malan said it was the first time that Airbus was making use of the skills of his institution’s researchers, and was confident that it would be a mutually beneficial partnership.

“This is a rapidly growing engineering field and is highly competitive,” Malan said. “In a nutshell, our research in this area of computational mechanics will help to enable the design of an aircraft in cyberspace.”

During the course of the research project, CSIR researchers will make use of the Centre for High Performance Computing (CHPC) – a Department of Science and Technology initiative that is managed by the CSIR’s Meraka Institute in cooperation with the University of Cape Town.

SAinfo reporter

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