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Seminar: Power Systems for Various Military Applications

Thomas Howell, PhD, Air Force Research Laboratory
Friday, January 18, 2019, 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm
Scott Lab
Room E525
201 W 19th Ave
Columbus, OH 43210


Unmanned aircraft systems power and propulsion along with portable soldier power are two main areas were we utilize various power systems to obtain increased endurance or capabilities. Hybrid power systems have the potential to offer unprecedented performance in UAS applications by providing range extension, power assist and range extension. The development of advanced high energy power sources and smart power management are critical for long endurance applications for UAS. The advanced power sources investigated are lithium ion batteries, PEM fuel cells, solid oxide fuel cells, turbo generators and heavy fuel engines. The hybrid approach is focused on having the high energy component operating at its design point while the high power component can help with peak power needs. Air Force Research Laboratory's in-house hybrid power systems research utilizes its hybrid electric test bed that allows for system models to be operated with real components with transient inputs. For portable soldier power, the focus is on lithium ion batteries packs that are ruggedized, safe and conformed to the soldier. Safe lithium ion batteries can be achieved through solid state electrolytes and non-flammable liquid electrolytes.  In-house research focuses on developing solid state electrolytes using a polymer/ceramic composite. AFRL uses aerosol jet deposition techniques to help minimize the interfacial resistance between the electrolyte and electrode.   


About the speaker

Thomas Howell serves as a materials engineer at the Air Force Research Laboratory, Aerospace Systems Directorate. In his position, he develops power systems for unmanned aerial systems and batteries for soldier power. He supports work on polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells for SUAS and solid oxide fuel cells for auxiliary power units for UAS.  He also supports lithium ion battery work for SUAS and soldier power. Thomas’ previous job was as a lead materials engineer for GE Aviation in the Materials and Processing Engineering Division, developing thermal and environmental barrier coatings for turbine blades. His work experience includes materials research for batteries, fuel cells, fuel reforming and turbine blade coatings. He completed his undergraduate studies in biomedical engineering at Wright State University (2005). He then earned an MS in aeronautical engineering at the Air Force Institute of Technology (2007) with his thesis topic focused on catalytic partial oxidation reforming of JP8 and S8. He then earned his PhD in materials science from the University of Cincinnati (2014) under the tutelage of Raj Singh. His research at the University of Cincinnati focused on perovskites for use as sulfur tolerant anodes.


Hosted by Professor Jung Hyun Kim.