Lab Facilities Available in AAE

Aerodynamics
Astrodynamics and Space Applications
Dynamics & Controls
Propulsion
Structures & Materials

Aerodynamics

Aerodynamics research is directed toward a better understanding of the fundamental laws governing the flow of fluids. Research topics of recent interest include: numerical methods in aerodynamics; computational fluid mechanics; separated flow around wings and bodies at high angles of attack; aerodynamics of rotors and propellers; boundary layers, wakes and jets in V/STOL applications and aerodynamic noise; experimental measurements using laser systems; laminar-turbulent transition in high speed boundary layers.

Experimental facilities include four wind tunnels located at the Aerospace Sciences Laboratory (ASL). The Boeing Wind Tunnel is a large subsonic wind tunnel with two test sections -- a closed 4-by-6 foot section with a maximum speed of 250 miles per hour and a long test section adapted for high-lift research. The first test section is equipped with a six-component motorized pitch-and-yaw balance system. Instrumentation includes a two-component laser Doppler velocimeter system and a computer data acquisition system.

Three smaller low-speed wind tunnels are also located at ASL. One has an 18-inch diameter test section, and the other two have test sections of 12 by 18 inches. Several small calibration tunnels are also available, along with a small water table.

Three small high-speed facilities are located in the Boeing Compressible-Flow Laboratory. The first is a 2-inch Mach-2.5 blowdown tunnel, and the second is a one-inch supersonic jet apparatus, designed for nozzle-flow studies. Both can be operated in pressure-vacuum mode, and are used primarily for teaching. The jet apparatus also includes a heater and particle filter, to enable supersonic hot-wire calibrations. A 4-inch shock tube is also available.

Lastly, the Boeing Compressible-Flow Laboratory also includes two large Ludwieg tubes. The first has a 4-inch Mach-4 test section, and remains quiet to a length Reynolds number of about 400,000. The second has a 9.5-inch Mach-6 quiet-flow test section. Instrumentation is specialized for study of laminar-turbulent instability and transition, and includes high-speed hot wires, fast-response pressure transducers, hot-film arrays and anemometers, a high-sensitivity laser-differential interferometer, a glow-discharge perturber, and a pulsed laser perturber.

Astrodynamics and Space Applications

Astrodynamics photo

The analysis of the motion of natural and man-made objects in space, subject to both environmental and artificial forces, is the focus of study in Astrodynamics and Space Applications. Fundamental principles support applications such as Earth orbital, interplanetary, and libration point missions; trajectory optimization; orbit determination; satellite geodesy; remote sensing; space environment; navigation; spacecraft guidance and station-keeping; communications, telemetry, and data acquisition; constellations and formation flight; and mission operations. In the area of astrodynamics, research activities focus on the complex missions envisioned in the next few decades that will demand innovative spacecraft trajectory concepts and efficient design tools for analysis and implementation. Current projects concern spacecraft navigation and maneuver requirements, as well as mission planning, in both the Earth�s neighborhood and interplanetary space. Research activities are also directed toward the utilization of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), with an emphasis on improving the robustness of GNSS navigation and developing new applications of GNSS to the field of Earth remote sensing.

Astrodynamics photo
Astrodynamics photo

A recent addition to the research facilities is the development of the Rune and Barbara Aerospace Visualization Laboratory in Armstrong Hall. This facility offers state-of-the-art capabilities in an increasingly visual approach to the complexities of modern astrodynamics. The facility includes a large-scale flat wall visualization environment with a stereoscopic, multi-projector display. Also, included in the lab are high performance computers capable of high resolution imaging and enhanced computing performance. In the first few years, this capability has been employed in various investigations to support mission design and analysis. The students and faculty work closely with the Purdue Envision Center for Data Perceptualization.






Astrodynamics photo

The Radio Navigation Laboratory has resources for the experimental analysis and study of space-based radio transmissions for navigation and remote sensing. The unique combination of custom-developed software allows for the development of advanced signal processing methods for weak signal acquisition, ephemeris generation, open-loop tracking of radio-occultation signals, bistatic radar and reflectometry. Universal Software Radio Peripheral (USRP) is standard for instruments in the lab, allowing flexible collection of raw signals over a wide spectrum of frequencies allocated to satellite communications and navigation. A set of low-cost consumer gaming machines (Playstation-3's) are re-programmed for high-performance computing. The laboratory has the ability to receiver all currently transmitting GNSS signals through a Leica AR25 antenna on the roof of Armstrong Hall.

Dynamics and Control

All modern aerospace vehicles rely upon an understanding of dynamics and control to improve system performance. Successful system design requires an understanding of the interactions of dynamic elements, and the trade-offs between vehicle dynamic characteristics, control system properties, and system performance.

Current research is divided into the following areas: aircraft design for improved handling qualities, astrodynamics, robust and nonlinear control theory and applications, estimation theory and applications, dynamics and control of flexible spacecraft, mission design, modeling and control of aeroelastic aircraft, spacecraft maneuvers and trajectory analysis and optimization.

Certain dynamics and control research projects and teaching activities require advanced and specialized laboratory facilities. The Control Systems Laboratory (CSL) contains four Dell computer based acquisition and control systems. The mission of the CSL is to develop methods and tools (software) for the analysis and design of complex dynamical systems and to promote the availability and use of the methods by teaching relevant courses and interacting with industry. Experiments used for undergraduate instruction include a two-degree-of-freedom helicopter experiment, and an inverted pendulum. A Remotely Piloted Vehicle, currently under development, represents a unique research facility upon which to perform many experiments in vehicle dynamics and control. Data communication with a computer based ground station is provided by a local area network.

Propulsion

Precombustor testing at Purdue University

Propulsion involves the study of the basic operation and design of aerospace propulsion devices, including both air-breathing engines and rocket powerplants. The gas dynamics of internal flows, thermodynamics, and combustion processes associated with those devices are discussed in detail. Engine components such as inlets, pumps, and/or compressors, combustion chambers, turbines, and nozzles are investigated. Various air-breathing engines such as turbojets, turbofans, ramjets, turboprops, and scramjets are treated. Rocket propulsion systems, including solid rocket motors; liquid rocket engines; hybrid rockets; and nuclear, electric, and advanced nonchemical systems are also covered.

Rocket Propulsion Experiment Picture

The propulsion group has unique facilities which are highly beneficial for the study of rocket propulsion and energy conversion. Laboratories are housed at Grissom Hall and at two major remote campus locations: the Maurice Zucrow Laboratory (MZL), and the Aerospace Sciences Laboratory (ASL). A history of MZL can be found here. Faculty, students, and staff also have access to machining facilities.

The Aerospace Post-Processing and Visualization Laboratory (in Grissom Hall) contains a variety of high-end computational assets. Several Silicon Graphics workstations are available for general computing, graphical visualizations, and digitization of images on videotape. In addition, a cluster of dual-chip Pentium machines running in a LINUX environment provides a resource for parallel computations of a significant scale.

Propulsion Picture

Both the Advanced Propellants and Combustion Laboratory (APCL) and the High Pressure Laboratory (HPL East and West) are housed at MZL. The test cells contained in APCL are of poured, reinforced concrete design with containment steel doors and explosive rated viewing windows. These cells are classed for both Class 1.1 and 1.3 explosives and are equipped with a frangible blowout wall, in case of major catastrophic events. Test Cells A and B currently contain rocket thrust stands capable of handling thrust loads of up to 1000 lbf. Test Cell C is currently in the design phase and will be built up in the near future. In local proximity is a dedicated oxidizer storage building, and a dedicated explosive/propellant storage bunker, rated for Class 1.1 materials. The two HPL test cells are also constructed with reinforced concrete walls and open into a secure detonation cell. The West Test Cell houses a pulse detonation engine (PDE) while the East Test Cell contains a rocket based combined cycle (RBCC) engine and a 10,000 lbf test stand.

Two options for machining high quality parts exist. The Aerospace Sciences Laboratory Machine Shop is a full-service, high tolerance machining facility with equipment including 3- and 5-axis mills, lathes (including CNC), welders, and grinders. Four full-time machinists are available for the fabrication of materials for class and research projects. Previous works have included rocket components (combustors, injectors, nozzles, etc.), turbomachinary, airfoils, and various wind tunnel (subsonic to Mach 6) and instrument parts. Additionally, the Central Machine Shop (CMS) is equipped and staffed to perform work requiring precision machining, machining on large work pieces, and specialized fabrications. Special services include 3-D CNC milling and full computer drafting and design. Instructional and research apparatus of almost any size and complexity can be fabricated. A wide variety of materials are available from the shop's inventory. The Central Machine Shop manager can coordinate special skills that exist on campus or are available commercially as well as advise faculty members and graduate students about the design of their research and instrumental equipment.

The "Smoke and Fire 101" page contains large amounts of information about engines, propulsion data, and has lots of useful links.

Structures

STRUCTURES PICTURE

Structures and materials research includes work in composite materials, computational structural mechanics, damage tolerance analysis, experimental structural analysis, structural mechanics and aeroelasticity, tribology, manufacturing, wave propagation, smart materials and structures, and optimal design methods.

The Composite Materials Laboratory (CML) contains equipment and facilities for general material testing and for fabrication of composite laminates. An autoclave specially designed for curing epoxy-matrix composites is available for laminate fabrication. A hot press is used for forming thermoplastic composites. A water jet cutting machine is used for specimen preparation. Four complete MTS material and fatigue testing machines (55 kip, 22 kip, 11 kip, and 1 kip capacity) and associated equipment are used to perform ultimate strength, stiffness, and fatigue tests on various composite materials. Nondestructive inspection equipment includes an x-ray machine and an ultrasonic C-scan system. Additional facilities for preparing laminated composites, impact testing, and creep testing are available.

STRUCTURES PICTURE

The Advanced Computational Materials and Experimental Evaluation (ACME) Laboratory conducts structural integrity motivated research directed at evaluating the lifing and damage tolerant properties of materials and components. Three computer-controlled electro-hydraulic test machines (1,000; 11,000; and 22,000 lb. capacity), a creep-test rig, and associated equipment are used to measure failure loads and to study fatigue crack formation and propagation in test specimens subjected to simulated aircraft load/temperature/time histories. Facilities are also available for high temperature testing through induction heating, strain field mapping with digital image correlation equipment, and analysis of the microstructure response to external stimuli through a small load frame placed within a scanning electron microscope chamber with electron back-scattering diffraction capabilities. The ACME group utilizes Purdue's School of Materials Engineering's extensive array of tools available for materials preparation and characterization. The facility contains full capabilities for microstructure analysis and optical microscopes including EBSD, SEM, TEM, and XRD equipment. Additionally, dedicated nodes on the Hansen computing cluster at Purdue's Rosen Center for Advanced Computing are accessed for large modeling, simulation, and data reduction efforts.

STRUCTURES PICTURE

The equipments and facilities in the Interfacial Multiphysics Lab are designated to conduct mechanical tests of solids and bio-observation of living cells. The modularized mechanical test setup from MicroMaterials Ltd. UK is designed for observation of modulus, hardness, creep, scratch resistance, fatigue resistance and surface profile at micro and nano-scale. Testing temperature approaches 750 degrees Celsius with corresponding heat stage. Another mechanical test setup (50k lbs) performs strength, stiffness, and fatigue tests at macro-scale. A research grade inverted microscope is used to observe bio-samples in liquids. Fluorescence imaging is performed with corresponding light source and sensors. A circulating chemical hood with powder and chemical filters serves as a general operation platform. Besides tool for experimental characterization, the lab also owns a 400 processor supercomputing cluster as well as access to Tera-Grid for high performance computing through Purdue Rosen Center for Advanced Computing.

The Structural Dynamics Laboratory has the latest equipment for recording ultra-dynamic events. Major equipment includes Norland and Nicolet digital recorders, a one-million-frame-per-second dynamic camera, impact gun, and various computer peripherals for data acquisition. The primary research interest is in the impact of structures and the analysis of consequent stress waves.