Power and Energy


The propulsion group at Purdue University has a proud history spanning nearly seven decades. From its inception under the leadership of Maurice “Doc” Zucrow in the post WWII era, the program has long been regarded as one of the finest in the nation. Our current faculty and senior staff boast over a century of combined experience that also includes design and development of actual systems and leadership of national scientific efforts related to the discipline. The group has broad experience with all types of chemical propulsion and has active programs in solid, liquid, and hybrid propulsion with all major propellant combinations currently in use (with the exception of liquid hydrogen). Purdue has the largest rocket-related graduate student population in the nation with nearly 50 highly-qualified students (the vast majority of whom are U.S. citizens) claiming expertise in this discipline. All major rocket propulsion manufacturers recruit these students, and leaders of new-era firms such as SpaceX and Blue Origin have personally visited and strategically recruit Zucrow Lab graduates.

Zucrow Laboratories

Combustion Dynamics

Purdue has a very active and comprehensive research program in combustion dynamics, including simulation and experimentation, with continued improvement in the methods used for data analysis. Recently, novel developments of reduced order models have been used to accurately describe the behavior of combustion-acoustic interactions for use in engineering analysis. Additionally, test configurations for the study of self-excited and forced instabilities are in use to provide understanding and validation data for advanced time-accurate computational fluid dynamic models. Sponsors of this research include NASA, AFRL, AFOSR, SMC, and MDA.

Cooling Technologies

The Cooling Technologies Research Center addresses research and development needs of members from diverse industries and product lines in the area of high-performance heat removal from compact spaces through member-directed investigations with a product-oriented focus.

"The National Science Foundation's (NSF's) Industry/University Cooperative Research Centers (I/UCRC) program is effecting positive change in the performance capacity of the U.S. industrial enterprise. Over the past two decades, the I/UCRCs have led the way to a new era of partnership between universities and industry, featuring high-quality, industrially relevant fundamental research, strong industrial support of and collaboration in research and education, and direct transfer of university-developed ideas, research results, and technology to U.S. industry to improve its competitive posture in world markets. Through innovative education of talented graduate and undergraduate students, the I/UCRCs are providing the next generation of scientists and engineers with a broad, industrially oriented perspective on engineering research and practice." - NSF I/UCRC overview

CTRC has a pre-competitive approach to work together with the different industry partners to develop thermal management technologies. This collaboration provides an excellent vehicle for technology transfer and for students to be trained in practical applications. In recognition of these relationships Dr. Garimella has received the National Science Foundation's I/UCRC 2011 Alexander Schwarzkopf Prize for Technological Innovation for his research to develop advanced cooling technologies for electronics and cars.

Hot-spots (Energy localization) in Explosives 

Dr. Steven Son's research program seeks to develop a detailed understanding of the formation mechanisms and dynamics of hot spots. The essential physics to be captured is the real-time visualization of the dynamic evolution of deformation and temperature fields at the size scales and temperature ranges of hot-spot formation under impact and periodic loading conditions. We are developing unique dynamic experimental methods to visualize the dynamic strain and temperature field evolutions focusing on and around an energetic crystal. 

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