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Federal Research Network awards more than $5 million to Ohio State teams

From The Ohio State University College of Engineering

Research projects led by Ohio State engineers have received more than $5 million in combined funding through the Ohio Federal Research Network (OFRN).

Part of a state initiative to boost Ohio’s economy, the OFRN was established in 2015 to create six university-based research centers of excellence which collaborate with one another, the four federal military research laboratories in Ohio and private industry.

Several OFRN grants have been awarded to Ohio State College of Engineering researchers for projects related to national defense, space exploration and aeronautics – all contributing to the network’s ultimate goal of attracting $350 million in outside investment to the state and creating 2,500 Ohio jobs in the next five years.

Improved efficiency in high-temperature turbines

As the federal government’s energy consumption grows, so does the push for more efficient turbomachinery. A project led by Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Assistant Professor Randall Mathison addresses this need by focusing on advanced cooling designs for reduced fuel consumption. The project has been awarded $1 million over two years and falls under the Ohio State-led Center for Propulsion and Power.

“The hotter you run a jet engine, the higher your efficiency can be,” explained Mathison. “But higher temperatures require more coolant, which also has a cost on your efficiency. So we’re always trying to ask ourselves if we can enable hotter temperatures with less cooling.”

Rather than the traditional “build it and burn it phase” which is costly in both time and money, the project uses an advanced state-of-the-art camera and other techniques to measure turbine cooling performance and create a data set that can be used to improve design tools to better predict engine behavior and improve the next generation of engines. Partners include the Air Force Institute of Technology in Dayton and University of Cincinnati.

Mathison said the project’s impact will not only benefit improved designed practices and turbine efficiency, but will also support local industry.

“Ohio is a big state for aircraft engine manufacturing and development,” he said. “In training the graduate students and undergraduates who are working on the project, we’re creating future candidates to go work in those government laboratories or private industry.”

Improved anti-icing technology for medium altitude drones

Airframe and engine icing is a common issue affecting aircraft safety and performance. That’s why an Ohio State team is leading a $1 million project to advance anti-icing technology for medium altitude unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), or drones. Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Professor Jim Gregory will lead the collaborative research effort.

The two-year project aims to predict and measure ice accumulation on an MQ-9 Reaper engine air inlet while assessing the performance of the Battelle HeatCoat system using icing wind tunnel testing. NASA Glenn, University of Dayton Research Institute and Case Western University are collaborating institutions.

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