Among the many Sterling SIHI pump manufacturer references, the IPEV (French Polar Institute Paul Emile Victor) is noteworthy for its originality and loyalty

IPEV have been a customer of Sterling SIHI since 1966 – an era when Paul Emile Victor personally signed orders! IPEV maintain two observation stations conducting various scientific research including; astronomy/astrophysics; geophysics/geology; atmospheric science; climatology; oceanography; life/environment; people and societies.

Anthony Vendé, Antarctic logistics department mechanical manager, who recently returned from Antarctic, said: “After spending the summer season in the southern hemisphere, every year on my return to France, I bring back some of our pumps to Sterling SIHI so that they can carry out the necessary maintenance.”

The Sterling SIHI pumps are mainly located on two sites:

The first, Dumont d’Urville, is located on Petrel Island near the Antarctic continent coast. This facility covers 5000m2 and includes dormitories, kitchens, canteens, laboratories, and technical facilities. About 26 people live there in the winter and between 80 and 100 in the summer. Temperatures range from 0 to  10°C in the summer and from  10 and  25°C with peaks at  30°C in the winter!

Clean drinking water

The production of clean drinking water is vital in these extreme conditions. Sterling SIHI pumps are at the heart of this important lifeline. Drinking water is produced through an evaporator operating under vacuum. There are number of difficult pumping applications associated with this equipment. Sterling SIHI Side Channel and liquid ring vacuum pumps are the ideal solution. Pump model AKH 3604 feeds the seawater circuit, a CEH 3602 evacuates the brine and a stainless steel DRVA recovers the produced water. The fourth pump, a LPHX 45008 liquid ring vacuum pump, provides the vacuum to enable the all important evaporation.

Transferring fuel

The daily transfer of 600 to 800 litres of fuel for the operating groups is provided by two Sterling SIHI AKH 1201 side channel pumps. A further three AKH 5103 side channel pumps ensure the transfer between the different plant depots, including one on a mobile pump.

The second station, the French Italian Concordia, is at an altitude of 3200m and is located 1100km from the Dumont d’Urville station. It includes three main buildings all interconnected by purpose built tunnels. In total the station covers an area of 2000m2. The station is home to 13 people in the winter rising to 50 to 70 in the summer months. Temperatures range from  25 to  45°C in the summer and  50 to  65°C with peaks at  80°C in the winter.

Snow as you could imagine is not in short supply, so drinking water is produced from melted snow. However, cleaning water is recycled. In fact, 80% of the so called grey wastewater is recycled thanks to a water treatment unit developed by ESA (European Space Agency). This recycling system incorporates five Sterling SIHI Side Channel AKH 3102 pumps, guaranteeing the distribution of cleaning water via two independent circuits. Also, for the daily transfer of fuel, IPEV use three side channel pumps an AKH 3602, AKH 1201 and a F301, indeed life would be very difficult without the reliability of the Sterling SIHI pumps.


During the summer months (October to March), a supply ship regularly transports fuel (diesel) and other materials to the two stations. The transfer of 1000m3 of fuel from the ship to the plant’s main tanks is carried out by two Sterling SIHI volute casing pumps, a ZLND040 and a ZLND050.

This fuel is primarily for the two stations, but it is also used during the summer months for three convoys between the two sites. Equipment, food and fuel are transported from Dumont d’Urville, with all sorts of different waste coming back on the return journey.

A vital lifeline

The vehicles that make these trips are a vital lifeline and must be reliable even in these difficult conditions. Sterling SIHI AKH 5102 side channel pumps are a very important part of this reliability, supplying fuel during these arduous journeys

Anthony Vendé said: “We have remained loyal to Sterling SIHI for decades. I appreciate the robustness of their pumps and more specifically, certain features such as self priming and low NPSH side channel pumps. The latter point allows us to effectively pump brine from the seawater that resides in Dumont D’Urville’s evaporator. Pump maintenance is regularly performed at Bouaye and spare parts for these pumps that we service personally are always perfectly available.”

Sterling Fluid Systems

T: 0161 928 6371