History of the Institute
The TH (Technische Hochschule) Darmstadt was founded in 1897 as the fifth institute for mechanical engineering under the name Department for Mechanical Engineering V for hydraulic engines, figuring machines, hydraulics and plants. This was the forerunner of today’s institute for “Fluid System Technology”. The president was Prof. Pfarr, who previously was the director at Voith (Heidenheim). It was then determined that research and study in this department would focus on water turbines, although Prof. Pfarr also lectured on other areas, such as paper manufacturing, for which there was no separate department.
After Prof. Pfarr’s death, Prof. Günther took over as head of the institute during World War I. Due to the chaos resulting from the war there was not much activity at the school until 1921 when Prof. Wagenbach became the department chair. He was an expert in the fields of measurement technology and water turbines. Under his leadership into the 1940s the institute’s activities became more focused on hydraulics with fluid mechanics, at that time still called hydraulics, as an ancillary field.
After the end of World War II, during which the buildings suffered greatly, many institutes at the TH underwent a reorientation and restructuring. The Institute for Aerodynamics and Aeronautical Engineering that existed up until 1945 was not permitted to continue its work after the war due to the general prohibition of aeronautical engineering in Germany issued by the allied forces. When Prof. Scheubel, head of this institute from 1932, returned from his one-year detention in the USA in 1946, he was named head of the Research center for fluid mechanics and hydraulic engines.
Although in the laboratory at that time – consisting of an old power plant and a workshop in the basement of an old administrative building – the working conditions were far from ideal, Prof. Scheubel was able to gain international prestige for this research center with his efforts. During his tenure the present-day office buildings in Magdalenen Street (1958) and the associated laboratory building with water tower (1965) were dedicated and put into use.
When Prof. Scheubel retired in 1966, the Research center for fluid mechanics and hydraulic engines was divided into two departments – “Technical fluid mechanics” and “Hydraulic engines and plants”, which still shared a workshop up until 1997.
Prof. Osterwalder was made head of the “Hydraulic engines and plants” department. He was formerly at Escher Wyss (Zurich) and was another expert in the field of water turbines, but still gave new energy to the study and research of centrifugal pumps. Since 1970, fluid technical drives are both studied and researched in this department.
After Prof. Osterwalder retired in 1984, Prof. Stoffel – formerly with KSB (Frankenthal) – became head of the department on March 1, 1985 and remained in this position until the end of the summer semester 2006. In 1992, the department for mechanical engineering at the TH Darmstadt decided that it would not have the department for “Thermal turbo machines and plants” continue as a separate department. This department, for which Prof. Pfeil had served as head until 1991, had its beginnings in the 19th century. In the summer semester of 1993, significant sections of this department were renamed and assigned to the expanded department of “Turbo machines and fluid drive technology”.
Due to this history, the year 1997 could be considered an anniversary year for this department. This offered itself as inspiration for holding an anniversary event and creating a centennial publication with the motto “100 years of turbo machines and 50 years of fluid drive technology at the TU Darmstadt”.
In 2006 the department was renamed once again. When Prof. Stoffel retired on September 30, 2006, the department name was changed to “fluid systems technology”. Dr. Peter Pelz, Ph.D. Eng. has been the head of this department since October 1, 2006. Before becoming a professor at the TU Darmstadt, he was the product development manager at Vibracoustic.