Mission Statement

The mission of the chair is to seed a center of excellence for “Thermo-Mechanical Innovation of Fluid Machinery”. This center stimulates high-end research collaboration between two main partners:

  • Industrial partner: Atlas Copco Airpower, world leader in the field of air compressing technology.
  • Academic partner: Department of Mechanical Engineering of the VUB.


The chair sponsors scouting research in the domain of the Center of Excellence, dedicated to the following research topics:

  • Machine Dynamics : Advanced Simulation Techniques, Drive-train Analysis and Novel Component Development
  • Thermodynamic Cycle Optimization, Computational Fluid Dynamics, and Energy Recuperation.
  • Machine Optimization by Mechatronics and Condition Monitoring.

The center of excellence will share both industrial and academic resources and focuses on the essential mutual influence between industry and academics:

  • Stimulate High-end innovation within the Industrial Environment
  • Bring in Challenging Industrial Cases to Inspire Academic Research and Teaching Activities.


Atlas Copco



Chair type



01/09/2016 – 31/08/2020

Holder of the Chair: Dr. Ir. Björn Verrelst

Björn Verrelst was born in Antwerp, Belgium, in 1972. He received the degree in study of Mechanical Engineering at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel in 1996 and a PhD in Applied Sciences in 2005. Currently he is Post-doc researcher at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. The focus of his research is the use of pneumatic artificial muscles in the walking biped Lucy for dynamically balanced walking and compliant actuation for robotic applications in general. During the period 2005/2006 he is conducting a one year JSPS post-doc research at the National Institute for Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Tsukuba, Japan.

Björn is now at Atlas Copco but remains active in the department as part-time assistant professor.

Academic Coördinator: Prof. Dr. Ir. Dirk Lefeber

Dirk Lefeber was born in 1956. He received the degree in Study of Civil Engineering at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and a PhD in Applied Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, in 1986. Currently he is professor at the dept. of Mechanical Engineering and head of the Robotics and Multibody Mechanics Research Group, Vrije Universiteit Brussel. His research interests are new actuators with adaptable compliance, dynamically balanced robots, robot assistants, rehabilitation robotics and multibody dynamics,