Right after Christmas 2018, our group was approached by a foreign aircraft engine manufacturer who requested us to perform various nvPM measurements in 2019. For 2019, our group originally planned to run engine emissions tests at our home base at SR Technics at Zurich airport, but due to their demanding test cell overhaul, we could not test until very late in the year. Thus, these tests abroad provided a unique opportunity and we also rapidly got a go from our primary funding agency as these tests were significant from the perspective of the international emissions regulations.

Agreeing to perform measurements abroad automatically launches a series of standardized process chains which need to be followed as well as possible, as on-site, there is (almost) no way to repair an instrument or replace a broken part.

Very early in the process, we thus calibrated various sensors in-house (using a secondary standard) and sent our aerosol instruments to their manufacturers for servicing and calibration. Replacement consumables were identified, ordered and packed. In parallel, the transport was organized: This consisted of generating a complete item list of the entire SMARTEMIS infrastructure, including description, insured value and new value, weight and potential hazards. Our transport company, Maurice Ward Group, was of great help when international transport rules had to be studied in detail, as well as during the risk-management process of our infrastructure worth up to a million Swiss Francs.

After calibration of our instruments, SMARTEMIS was tested at SR Technics in different modes of operation in order to make sure that everything worked as intended. Then came the day when SMARTEMIS, all packed up snugly in custom-built, wooden boxes, was sent to its destination in Eastern Europe.

SMARTEMIS packed and ready for shipping.

Knowing that SMARTEMIS was on the way, we prepared ourselves for the 4-week-long trip and traveled to our final destination via Moscow. We, of course, took the opportunity to do a little bit of sightseeing in the Russian capital, had a look at the typical tourist attractions like the Kremlin or the Gorky park, as the weather was very sunny and mild.

At our destination, we rapidly located one of the restaurants that became our go-to restaurant for most of our dinners during our stay because, as one says, it is important to keep mind and body properly fueled for success. Since typical eastern European food is famous for being rather meat-heavy, we often found ourselves having dinner in “Lakshmi”, an Indian-influenced vegan restaurant with absolutely fabulous tea. Yet, we went to quite a few other restaurants featuring delicious local and international dishes. During lunch, we were graciously hosted by our client, making the best of our stay.

Julien, Jazz, and Lukas in front of the engine testing facility

Shortly after our arrival, we dug into work. This first meant checking the state of the SMARTEMIS boxes, unpacking everything, connecting the measurement infrastructure to the power grid, shop air and calibration gas bottles, and running a few tests. Rapid deployment and a few first measurements proved that SMARTEMIS was, despite the long trip on some probably bumpy roads, doing perfectly fine.

While Julien traveled back after 10 days, Jazz & Lukas performed an intensive yet very successful measurement campaign with different engines.

Of course, there were breaks between measurement days and the thorough on-site data analyses. Beneath taking some well-deserved naps and jogging rounds, we were invited to two very interesting guided tours. The first tour led us to an open air museum of wooden architecture from the 17th to 19th century. On the particular day of our visit, the museum was hosting an international festival of military reconstruction. After a wet start, the weather showed compassion on us, even featuring some sunshine on our way back. The second trip led Jazz and Lukas to a very impressive ice cave, which was formed over thousand of years into the surrounding karstic area.

After a successful end to the project, SMARTEMIS was packed into its wooden boxes, and sent back to Switzerland, while we headed back to Zurich.