Somewhere, 36,000 kilometres above the earth’s surface, the two-tonne communication satellite is in serene geostationary orbit. But on 5 January 2014, booms, roars and explosive rumbles of India’s cryogenic rocket engine filled the air at the southern spaceport of Sriharikota as the satellite was launched into space. After 20 years of development efforts, India celebrated its first successful flight using a locally sourced cryogenic rocket engine. Leading up to this event, the rocket engine was tested at facilities in Mahendragiri, in the state of Tamil Nadu, that were co-developed and constructed by Linde Kryotechnik (LKT) and Linde Engineering India (LEI).
After receiving the test facility’s proposed layout and process design in early 2005, the first step for Ernst Adler, Chief Operation Officer of Linde Kryotechnik (LKT), and his colleagues was to review the plans and carry out detail engineering. "The major challenges were the required pressure stability of 400 bars and nominal pipe sizes up to DN 250," he remembers. In order for cryogenic technology to function within these parameters, the tolerances are minimal. "We had to employ highest grade transfer pipes and valves for the super-cooled fuels to ensure efficient supply at this pressure and in this quantity," says Adler. The January launch was a pivotal point for India’s future plans of sending humans to the moon and beyond. For Ernst Adler, the success also signifies a milestone for Linde Kryotechnik: "It demonstrates that we can deliver high-end cryogenic technology for even the most advanced applications."