Plastron signs up to SPRINT

Posted on 6 January, 2022 by Advance 

Plastron UK Ltd, which specialises in safe operations for the NewSpace industry, has signed up to the national SPRINT (SPace Research and Innovation Network for Technology) business support programme.

Image courtesy SPRINT

The SPRINT project will help Plastron to optimise the air management systems of its cleanroom product to ensure that air cleanliness meets the exacting industry standards for satellite assembly cleanrooms.

Plastron’s cleanroom product is designed for the hazardous handling of spacecraft during assembly and prior to launcher encapsulation. SPRINT will provide Plastron with funded access to expertise from the University of Southampton to ensure that the air management system design of the company’s cleanroom product achieves the desired ISO8 industry standard. This will ensure these NewSpace facilities are compliant with European Space Agency (ESA) standards required by satellite operators, helping to reduce overall energy consumption through more efficient air cycling in the process.

The concentration of microscopic particles suspended in the air of a satellite assembly cleanroom needs to be below a required threshold to meet ESA standards for ISO8. This SPRINT project will help Plastron to validate cleanliness levels for airborne, suspended particulate in the mobile cleanroom, enabling operators to optimise their spacecraft Quality Control monitoring.

The collaboration with the University of Southampton will provide Plastron UK with expertise in advanced fluid mechanics, computational fluid dynamics modelling and simulation, and the use of appropriate simulation software.

In addition to ensuring that the air quality throughout the operational volume is ISO8 at a minimum, Plastron will then extend the investigation to determine if the climate control system can be refined to reduce power consumption levels even further.

This project with the University of Southampton will be funded by the £7.4 million SPRINT programme. SPRINT provides unprecedented access to university space expertise and facilities. SPRINT helps businesses through the commercial exploitation of space data and technologies.

Charlie Young, Joint Managing Director at Plastron said: “For our cleanroom product, we’ve designed a mobile, modular space for satellite assembly and air flow is pivotal to this process. By removing fans from our design whilst still meeting ISO8 standards, we are increasing efficiency by enabling operators to clean down the whole facility in a matter of minutes.

“By collaborating with the University of Southampton, we’re giving confidence to customers that air quality levels will be achieved to the highest standards with a product that also offers significant reductions in energy consumption.”

Dr Zhengtong Xie, Associate Professor within Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of Southampton added: “We’re delighted to be working with the Plastron team on this SPRINT project. Our IRIDIS high-performance supercomputing resources and expertise in computer modelling innovation will help Plastron to assess the efficiency of its cleaning facilities to reach the required industry standards.”