Science for Society

New innovations in focus for Space Hub Lund

Caroline Wendt
May 12, 2020

The Space Hub Lund collaboration resumed in April 2020 by gathering the participants for a webinar. The webinar presented what resources Lund has to offer, how companies can be associated with the space industry and what opportunities there are to find support for different initiatives. "From the meeting we will continue to build the foundation for a Space Hub South", says Per Persson, Director of the Department of Sustainable Business Development, City of Lund.

In April Space Hub Lund ran a webinar with participants from both the Swedish National Space Agency (SNSA) and European Space Agency (ESA) as well as MAX IV, Lund Observatory and NanoLund. The program leaders were Anders Bengtsson and Per Ahlstedt from Future by Lund. This was the third meeting of the collaboration, which began on 20 November 2019 when more than 80 local, national and international guests put together 17 possible initiatives that have since been developed further. Several of these initiatives have become more concrete and the progress made within three of them – endurable solar panels, A Kinder Garden, and Material for Alfa Laval’s plate heat exchangers – was presented during the webinar in April.

Enrique Barrigón from Lund University is an entrepreneur that works with nanostructured solar cells. These solar cells are resistant to high energy particles and can withstand up to 40 times more radiation than equivalent space solar cells. The satellites orbiting the Earth are positioned within two orbits at different distances from the Earth. In the space between these two orbits it is difficult to have satellites due to, amongst other things, the higher level of particle radiation. Having more radiation resistance solar cells, like the ones developed by Enrique Barrigón will enable full use of new orbits and therefore become a breakthrough for satellite development.  

Christian Wilke is an architect as part of the team that is developing Brunnshög but has also designed a concept for a circular pre-school – Kinder garden. To be able to develop this idea further, the group is making an application to Interreg.

– The pre-school is a place where society introduces itself to a child – let us make it a positive and sustainable place, says Wilke.

This new type of pre-school could consist of moveable units that can easily be placed in a park or next to another green space. The pre-school could circulate rainwater and use renewable energy sources so that it should not have to connect to the power grid or sewage system. Space Hub Lund is planning to make an application to begin a preliminary project on the circular pre-school. Read more about A inder Garden.

Magnus Nilsson, Head of Technology Development Alfa Laval, came with a wish list for a new material that he hopes to find to be used in Alfa Laval’s plate heat exchangers. He wants to develop a material that can replace stainless steel in the product.

– Could we develop a new material with twice the thermal conductivity and half the weight compared to stainless steel? Is it possible to make a thin material with double the strength? Can it have the formability of stainless steel or even better?

The interesting thing about Space Hub Lund is to explore how this and similar initiatives can get in contact with the research on materials that is made within the ESA and space industry in general.

There are already several internationally recognized facilities in Lund that carry out research that is related to space research. At the webinar Max IV, Lund Observatory and NanoLund introduced themselves to the Space Hub participants.

Magnus Larsson is head of industrial relations at the Max IV laboratory in Lund. Max IV is a national synchrotron x-ray facility where it is possible to get a deeper understanding of materials and processes on the micrometre, nanometre and atomic scales. There are two ways to access Max IV’s equipment – either by making an application to get free access and publishing your results or by buying access and keeping the results secret. Either way it is best to come together with a partner within academia, institute or private mediator companies to get the most out of the experiment. We can help you find your way at the MAX IV industry office.. We are connected to networks of scientists that specialize in different areas, such as research connected to the food processing industry, forestry industry, and for metal industry. The Max IV facility has space for 2,000 users per year once we are fully up and running.

– There is definitely value to be gained in connecting people in the way that Space Hub Lund does, which is also the way we work at the industry office of Max IV, says Magnus Larsson. For when people are connected new things can be made possible. It would have been interesting for us to put together a collaboration relating to space.

Another participant from Lund was David Hobbs of Lund Observatory. He spoke about several space projects and space research that has a strong association to Lund. One such project is the Gaia mission, where a spacecraft was launched in 2013 to observe the Galaxy with two telescopes pointed in different directions. The spacecraft and telescopes are rotated to scan the entire sky and the images can be stitched together to give a detailed picture of the entire Galaxy. Linked to this is a future project called GaiaNIR, which will use infrared light to investigate the dusty Galactic centre and spiral arms. Other projects are LISA, which explores gravitational waves, and Cheops, whose mission is to examine exoplanets.

NanoLund is another center in Lund associated with space research. Magnus Borgström talked about the interdisciplinary research environment that has been built up for nanoscience. Nanoscience is about studying, manipulating, and assembling matter at the atomic level. The vision is to be an internationally renowned nanoscience center.

The ESA was represented by Ulrike Bohlman, who gave an interesting introduction about the ESA_lab@ concept, which is an initiative launched in 2016. The concept is a neural network designed to support ESA’s mandate and preparations for the future, with each lab having its own speciality. The network is based on a non-exchange of funds with the aim to intensify research, development, and outreach.

Ulrike Bohlman also presented what to expect from ESA - where amongst other things, you can receive guidance from experts, have access to infrastructure and be able to use the collective insights from the network.

Tobias Edman from the Swedish National Space Agency (SNSA) gave a presentation about Strategic networks and financing within the space industry. He also presented ways to find funding – which can be found on the SNSA’s website. He also talked about the ESA Business Incubator Sweden, which is financed by the SNSA. At present the ESA BIC is located at Luleå, Trollhättan and Uppsala, however Edman expressed an expectation that there will hopefully be an ESA BIC also in Lund.

Translation: Ben Dohrmann

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