June 26, 2020

Hypersonics research is focus of Purdue-Johns Hopkins APL agreement

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue University and the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) have signed an agreement to collaborate on hypersonic research and related technologies.

Joseph Jewell, assistant professor in Purdue’s School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, said the research will make use of Purdue's "quiet" Mach 6 Ludwieg Tube, which is located at the Purdue University Airport and is a part of the Aerospace Sciences Laboratory. The Boeing-AFOSR Mach 6 Quiet Tunnel facility, which was completed in 2006, is the world's largest and most capable such wind tunnel.

"In a typical hypersonic wind tunnel, there are pressure waves, acoustic waves that come off the nozzle and into the test section, which can change the results of aerodynamic experiments significantly. Ours is designed so that the level of those disturbances is up to 200 times smaller," Jewell said. "This agreement with APL will allow us to collaborate in a way that's much smoother and easier in the future."

In addition to the collaborative research on hypersonic materials, guidance and navigation control systems, and sensors, the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory and Purdue's Institute for Global Security and Defense Innovation will collaborate to research several technologies. These include microelectronics, quantum information, integrated data science, artificial intelligence and robotics.

As part of the agreement, APL will also provide Purdue University faculty and students with access to its facilities, including APL’s robust additive manufacturing hub at its Laurel, Maryland, campus, as well as its subject-matter experts in APL’s Force Projection Sector, Air and Missile Defense Sector, and Research and Exploratory Development Department. The Laboratory also hopes to work further with graduate and doctoral students from Purdue, through internships, mentoring, and other avenues.

Kirk Shawhan, precision strike mission area executive at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, said the agreement will create a collaborative environment for APL and Purdue staff members and students.

“This is a natural opportunity for our institutions to work together to expand our collective knowledge about hypersonic capabilities and more,” he said.

The collaboration with APL is not the first of its kind at the Aerospace Sciences Laboratory, Jewell said.

"We do work for all of the big aerospace companies," he said. "We also work with the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the Air Force Research Laboratory, and the Office of Naval Research. These organizations come to us to do hypersonic projects because we are the only place in the world that can do low-disturbance testing at Mach 6 with good access to the test section for instruments."

In February, Purdue announced plans to build the world's first quiet Mach 8 wind tunnel. The Mach 8 quiet wind tunnel will be the first facility of its kind capable of collecting data at speeds greater than Mach 6. Collecting data at higher Mach numbers is critical to extending the understanding of flow physics, especially heat transfer and flight control effectiveness.

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Writer and Media Contact: Steve Tally, steve@purdue.edu, @sciencewriter

Media contact for Johns Hopkins APL: Justyna Surowiec, Justyna.Surowiec@jhuapl.edu 

Source: Joseph Jewell, 765-494-6549, jsjewell@purdue.edu 

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