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Fläkt Woods in productive partnership with Essex University

An ongoing partnership between the University of Essex and Fläkt Woods has helped to create a new range of industrial fans, powered by an electronically commutated (EC) motor which is now rolling off the company’s production line in Colchester.

The fans are powered by an EC motor.

The EC motor has been a joint development between Fläkt Woods and Wolong Holdings Group and will be used in the Climafan range of industrial heat transfer fans.

This is the first product to be developed with the help of the Innovate UK-backed Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) between the university and Fläkt Woods. 

The national KTP programme helps businesses in the UK to innovate and grow by linking them with leading academics and a graduate who is looking to put their academic knowledge to work in commerce.

The Fläkt Group KTP program has been has been awarded Best Partnership 2017 by Essex University, in recognition of its success.

Working with Essex University has also allowed Fläkt Woods, which is part of the FläktGroup, to access the expertise of other staff and students at the university to speed up existing projects, and develop new initiatives to enhance its business.

As part of the KTP, Bharath Sudev, who qualified with a Doctorate in Computer Sciences from York in 2016, worked as a research associate alongside a team at Fläkt Woods. Professor Dongbing Gu, a leading expert on computational intelligence and robotics from the School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering at Essex University, acted as the academic lead.

Mr Sudev will become a full-time member of the team at Fläkt Woods, bringing with him an extensive knowledge of electronics and communications.

A typical use of the EC Climafan is in the chillers and condensers market where it blows air at ambient temperature across a coil to remove heat. It can be used in both industrial and HVAC applications. Of the many challenges to overcome during the development process were the requirements for continuous operating temperatures of between -400C and +800C and an IP65 rating for dust and water ingress.

The motor has been designed to operate at efficiency levels above current legislative requirements and, thanks to bespoke plate sizes and finishes, it can be tailored to fit customer requirements, offering BMS integral control and pre-heating as standard for lower temperature modes of operation.

Simon Chapman, research and development director at Fläkt Woods, said: “This partnership has been a remarkable success, resulting in an outstanding product which enables us to offer a more efficient and flexible product to meet our customers’ needs.

“We appreciate all the help we have had from Bharath and the team at the University of Essex, and we look forward to working with them further in the future to develop more innovative products.”

Professor Gu said: “We are glad to see our academic knowledge has been transferred to industry and enabled Fläkt Woods to produce new products. Our academic team has also developed some Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) related HVAC projects for our students, thanks to support from the Fläkt Woods team. We look forward to working with the company to apply our IoT and AI knowledge to new products.”

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