UAH Wind Tunnel to be Used in New Study

The wind tunnel at The University of Alabama in Huntsville Johnson Research Center will be used to provide data to research gas turbine hot section components at engine conditions.

Known as the SuperSonic/TranSonic/WindTunnel or SS/TS/WT, the $2 million facility will be utilized during a two-year, $346,933 grant from Solar Turbines Inc. in San Diego, Calif., to study innovative cooling configurations and develop a new physical understanding of surface heat transfer characteristics, including cooling technologies.

The principal investigator is Dr. Phillip Ligrani, eminent scholar in propulsion and professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering. The aim of the research is to reduce gas turbine cooling air requirements and reduce thermal loading, with equivalent improvements in thermal protection and structural integrity.

“Currently, there is much interest in transonic, supersonic and hypersonic flows for a variety of applications, which range from gas turbine engines to hybrid space vehicles to rockets and missiles,” Dr. Ligrani says.

The grant provides research opportunities for students, as well. Undergraduate research assistants and graduate research assistants will be involved.

Earlier this year, experimental results were obtained using the wind tunnel that confirmed the research team’s ability to produce and investigate transonic and supersonic flow environments and led to the award of the research contract.