Two University of Texas at Arlington aerospace engineering professors have received a $330,978 grant from the Office of Naval Research for equipment that will make UT Arlington’s Aerodynamic Research Center (ARC) capable of testing more material.
Luca Maddalena will lead the Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP) research project with Vijay Gopal, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and co-principal investigator on the project, which is titled Vacuum System for Envelope Expansion of the ONR-UTA Arc-Heated Plasma Wind Tunnel.
“This grant allows us to install a larger nozzle in our facility, which allows us to test larger components instead of coupon-size specimens,” said Maddalena, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and ARC director. “We couldn’t do that before. This nozzle is almost 9 inches in diameter. That opens up what can be tested here at UT Arlington’s Aerodynamic Research Center.”
Maddalena said the equipment will expand the facility envelope to reproduce a new range of hypersonic flight trajectories for high-temperature materials development and characterization in support of Department of Defense programs.
UT Arlington possesses the only university-operated, large-scale, arc-heated wind tunnel in the country capable of simulating high-impact pressures and high shear.
For more than 60 years, arc-jet testing has served as primary basis for characterizing thermal protection systems in support of material development and response model validation. Arc-heated wind tunnel facilities provide the only ground-based means of simulating hypersonic heating rates during entry, re-entry and hypersonic cruise in a reacting flow environment under flight-relevant durations. Arc-jet testing provides data for detailed material response models that can reduce uncertainty and the magnitude of thickness margins, and it is essential to investigating mechanical failures.
Erian Armanios, chair of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, said Maddalena and the ARC are earning a deserved reputation of securing unique facilities that attract timely and innovative projects.
“UTA is addressing critical national needs, and our students are benefiting from being a part of groundbreaking research opportunities,” Armanios said. “Maddalena’s leadership of ARC is unique and impactful. ARC has become the destination for the best and brightest.”