Thu, Apr 17, 2014 19:25
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Grant to Fund UTEP Studies on Hypersonic Airplane Materials

Texas Business reports: Two mechanical engineering professors at The University of Texas at El Paso have received a grant worth nearly $400,000 from the United States Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR).

Arturo Bronson, professor of mechanical engineering and the principal investigator for the project, said the project investigates a new method of processing high temperature material, primarily nonmetal or ceramics.

According to Bronson, the findings will be used to develop materials on the hypersonic airplane that the U.S. Air Force and NASA are building.

Currently, materials such as the turbine blades on airliners reach about 1,300 degrees Celsius. However, Bronson and his co-investigators are looking at materials that could withstand temperatures between 2,500 to 3,000 degrees Celsius.

“If we’re able to go to a higher temperature, it would make the engine more efficient,” Bronson said. “That would then lower the fuel cost and allow for longer distance flights. The higher temperature would also allow flights above the normal atmosphere.”

The project also involves Vinod Kumar, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at UTEP, as a co-investigator. Bronson, an expert in high temperature reactions, will do the experimentations, while Kumar, an expert in computational fluid dynamics, will do the modeling.

The AFOSR has funded the high temperature research since 2005.

“It shows they (AFOSR) are pleased with our work and expect ‘high’ things from us in the future,” Bronson said with a laugh.

About 10 to 15 UTEP students have been involved in the project. Bronson said the students have been able to continue work in this field of study either in their careers in industry or while pursuing their doctoral degrees.