Industry joins research effort related to dynamic energy systems

February 24, 2015  

Timothy Fisher

Timothy Fisher, Purdue's James G. Dwyer Professor of Mechanical Engineering, speaks during an event on Tuesday (Feb. 24) to announce a new industry research consortium as part of a national Center for Integrated Thermal Management of Aerospace Vehicles. Fisher is the center’s director of the center.  (Purdue University photo/Matt Thomas)
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue University has formed an industry research consortium as part of a national center to create temperature-control technologies for dynamic energy systems on aerospace vehicles.

The Center for Integrated Thermal Management of Aerospace Vehicles (CITMAV), launched in 2014, is funded with $1.5 million over three years from the Aerospace Systems Directorate of the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory. Now, the university's School of Aeronautics and Astronautics has led the creation of an industry consortium as part of the center. Each of the new industry partners will provide $100,000 per year, nearly doubling the funding.

The new industry research consortium was announced on Tuesday (Feb. 24). The initial industry members are Boeing Co., Rolls-Royce Corp., Honeywell International Inc., and Lockheed Martin Corp.

"This consortium injects key industrial partners whose involvement is necessary to achieve the goals of the center," said Tom Shih, a professor and head of the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He is a member of the research team led by Timothy Fisher, director of the center and James G. Dwyer Professor of Mechanical Engineering.

The goal is to develop thermal-management systems for applications that require high levels of power for a few seconds to minutes. The heat loads come from electronic devices or aerodynamic heating caused by friction with the air when traveling at high supersonic speeds.

"Electronic components, for example, can have significant inefficiencies, which means that a very large amount of heat must be handled and removed at the source," said Fisher, who holds a courtesy appointment in Aeronautics and Astronautics. "You have to maintain a very narrow temperature window or they will not work properly."

The center's academic partners are the University of Illinois, Wright State University, University of Dayton, and University of Texas at Austin.

Advanced materials are needed to handle spiking fluctuations of heat, said Fisher, who is leading work to develop new thermal-management approaches with nanoscale carbon materials.

"Normally thermal technologies are heavy, and they are slow. They may take minutes to take up and control heat, and we need something that's lightweight and fast, on the order of 1 to 10 seconds," he said.

New technologies to control temperature could improve performance and bring more compact systems. The systems intermittently draw large amounts of power in pulses that generate equally large bursts of heat.

"Because it's not a steady-state problem, we need to think of new thermal architecture designs that actually take advantage of this intermittency," said Fisher, who specializes in heat transfer in nano-materials. "Many things are changing at once in the operation of these systems, and we are also trying to understand how to quantify and predict uncertainties in power and temperature levels."

In addition to Fisher and Shih, the center includes Stephen D. Heister, director of Purdue's Maurice J. Zucrow Laboratories and the Raisbeck Engineering Distinguished Professor for Engineering and Technology Integration in Purdue's School of Aeronautics and Astronautics; Peter Bermel, an assistant professor in Purdue's School of Electrical and Computer Engineering; Andrew Alleyne, Ralph M. and Catherine V. Fisher Professor in the Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering at the University of Illinois; Jayathi Y. Murthy, the Ernest Cockrell, Jr., Memorial Chair in Engineering and chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin; John Doty, an associate professor in the Department of Engineering Management and Systems at the University of Dayton; and professors J. Mitch Wolff and Rory Roberts, both in the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at Wright State University. 

Media Contact: Emil Venere, 765-494-3470, 

Sources: Tim Fisher, 765-494-5627, 

Tom Shih, 765-494-3006, 

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