The von Karman Institute will further explore dual technology

The von Karman Institute has been designated by NATO as a member of a project aimed at accelerating defense innovation. He will work more on technologies that have both civilian and military applications.

The flagship of the Belgian scientific ecosystem, the von Karman Institute (VKI) will contribute to the strengthening strategy the technological and industrial defense base in our country and in Europe, further explore technologies with both civilian and military applications.

Based in Rhode-Saint-Genèsethe VKI – real name von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics – is an institute dedicated to research and training in aeronautics and space, applied fluid dynamicsand turbomachinery and propulsion. It has world-class facilities and recognized expertise far beyond our borders, including on the other side of the Atlantic.

Calling his clients Safran Aero Boosters, Bekaert, ArcelorMittal, Airbus or the European Space Agency. It also engages in collaboration with the famous American space administration, The NASA.

He has been little engaged so far in purely military research, instead favoring the so-called dual technology, ie, having applications in both the civil and defense sectors. But times are changing: new international tensions have forced many countries to reinvest in their military, which requires increased investment in defense companies as well as research.

A laboratory

As part of this rearmament movement, the von Karman Institute was designated, along with other Belgian actors, as a laboratory made available to NATO countries within the framework. of a project, called DIANA, which aims to accelerate change defense of the countries of the Atlantic alliance.

Established in 2022, the Diana initiative aims to engage Member States with the private sector and academia.

Established in 2022, the initiative aims engagement with Member States in the private sector and academia, to ensure that transatlantic security will benefit from the best of new technologies, recalled the Minister of Defense, Ludivine Dedonder, during the visit to the VKI on Wednesday with his colleague Thomas Dermine, the Secretary of State for Science Policy who manages RELAUNCH. The other Belgian innovation centers selected are the WSL incubator, A6K, IMEC and FlandersMake.

All these actors will benefit from the programs accelerating development, test their technology and adapt it to defense markets. The selected sectors are artificial intelligence, quantum technology, autonomous systems, biotechnology and hypersonic technology.

“For hypersonic technologies, we mainly work on atmospheric re-entry issues”

Peter Grognard

Managing Director of VKI

This last segment is definitely one of VKI’s specialties, which has several dedicated machines: The Plasmatrona wind tunnel going thermal protection test spacecraft entering the atmosphere, as well as Long shot, a type of large piston capable of simulating hypersonic flow conditions. “For hypersonic technologies, we mainly work on atmospheric re-entry issues”, explains managing director Peter Grognard.

A modernization

VKI, which has 140 employees who train hundreds of students and researchers every year, is also engaged in a program of modernization of its 25 million Federally funded facilities, recalled, for his part, Thomas Dermine. The institute also benefits from the amount of 20 million from the recovery plan, to develop skills in terms of new technologies, such as the use of hydrogen as fuel for rockets or new generation aircraft.

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