Such was the exclamation from at least 4 different potential customers who visited our stand at ASME in Rotterdam from June 14–16, 2022.
“I’ve been looking for such a solution for the past few years – but just couldn’t find anything,” said one, coming up to the stand to start discussing our solid-rotor technology with us and how it can be used in various compressor and turbine applications.
Visiting ASME this year in Europe was a first-time event for the Turbo team. And since there has been a break for the past few years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, attendance at the conference was good, and the number of exhibitors was sufficient for fruitful discussions and new leads.
In all, the ASME conference with an attendance of approximately 2,000 was a good mix of R&D professionals and scientifically oriented experts. The exhibition with 89 exhibitors was just the sidekick.
On Wednesday, Giulio Martorelli had the opportunity to give a presentation on how solid-rotor technology expands the capabilities of standard induction machines in the ASME exhibition hall.
What’s the catch?
“In addition to large industrial gas turbines and compressors, microturbines that are small in size and spin really fast are well known by this audience,” adds Mikko Lönnberg. “But our products are much larger… so, we got plenty of questions about what’s the catch? What are we doing differently?”
His favorite comment from a stand visitor who was looking for a solution to test big compressors was: “This is beautiful!”
Once visitors realized what was behind “Think outside the gearbox,” the reaction was one of being positively impressed.
Waiting to see who makes the first move
The overall feeling was that everyone in this industry is waiting on the starting line. All are hesitant – but ready to move forward. Which technology will be the winner for the new energy solutions needed in the future?
Many companies are interested in direct-drive solutions for their high-speed compressors. They’re looking to see who will make the first move. So far, the technology of choice for green gases is at the moment undefined – but promising for our high-speed direct-drive solution.
“The hydrogen economy is a very hot topic right now,” Markus Silventoinen comments. “Starting from concepts on how to use and store it. And on to solutions for pipeline compressors and electrical machines driving them – which are still in the study and development stage.”
Hydrogen is light gas. This means very high tip speeds are needed to make the necessary pressure increase for the compressors required to transport and store it. In this application, the direct-drive motors must spin very fast. So, 300–1,000 kW machines are needed in a range from 20,000–60,000 rpm.
Universities like Lappeenranta University of Technology were there, too – presenting their technology to an eager audience. Many of the university projects aim to move beyond the limits – something that the larger players are not able to do as easily when trying to balance profitability with innovation.
“It was very nice to see our local university, Lappeenranta University of Technology, present their studies of how to decrease the tip speed of radial hydrogen compressors by fine-tuning the compressor blade design,” Markus says. “These kinds of studies provide the baby steps needed toward more commercial products for this field.”
Confidence in our solid-rotor technology
It was encouraging to meet with and speak to many of the large companies in the market. They’re facing many questions, as new solutions are needed to help fight climate change. So, renewable energy, in particular hydrogen, is of high interest.
The same topics were brought up by each: “How to further develop the drive system for the compressors?”
Stand visitors represented a good combination of compressor and turbine manufacturers as well as component suppliers from specific fields, such as different measurement systems, electric machine active parts, shaft grounding, component machining and bearings.
“I feel that the atmosphere at ASME was warm and open,” says Markus. “And I am confident that we have a really good chance with our solid-rotor products to answer many of their challenges.”