Energy & Propulsion

Energy and Propulsion concentrates on understanding and exploiting the applications of energy generation, storage, conversion, and management. The goal of this research is to provide energy and power applications to enhance Army operational effectiveness, improve efficiency, and accelerate development of critical military platform systems ensuring Army Power Projection superiority. The opportunities outlined in Energy and Propulsion are linked to the Tactical Unit Energy Independence Essential Research Area (ERA).

Energy for Maneuver (ALC)

Research focuses on enabling technologies and materials that enhance the performance of future Army systems through the efficient utilization and distribution of electrical power across the spectrum of Army vehicles and tactical energy networks. Collaborations are being sought in four areas.
(1) Power Electronics for Tactical Energy Networks and Mobile Platforms Enabling technologies and materials are critical to enhance the performance of future Army systems through the efficient utilization and distribution of electrical power across the spectrum of Army vehicles and tactical energy networks.  Collaborations are sought for (a) power system controls and algorithm development; (b) mid- to large AC grid test platforms with multiple generators/sources; (c) renewable energy sources for dynamic environments; (d) nanocystalline, soft magnetic ribbon production; (e) high-voltage, hybrid energy storage technologies for compact systems; and (f) wide-band gap device/module fabrication (e.g., SiC, GaN, AIN).

(2) 3kW to 300kW AC/DC Microgrids Hardware/Software/Hardware-Software Control:  Collaborators are sought to advance technologies for efficient utilization of all available energy and to provide intelligent distribution of power.  Technologies include power distribution hardware which is simple to use; power line sensing that can learn and apply load and source signatures; prognostics and diagnostics for loads and sources; lightweight and compact multi-function power conversion and distribution systems; and compact energy dense energy storage systems.  Collaborators are also sought to pursue technology advancements for distributed control of power distribution systems and the estimation and prediction of solar flux on PV arrays. Additional technologies also encompass cognitive systems for improved and automated data-to-decision; utilization of learned behaviors from previous operations; software that can rapidly adapt to grid operation while learning system behavior; use of tangible and intangible energy costs in the prioritization of demands; trainable systems and the utilization of learned behaviors from previous operations.

(3) Soldier and Small System Energy:  Intelligent power systems are required to enable extended duration, expeditionary-type missions with minimal physical burden to Soldiers and with the need for resupply.  ARL seeks collaborative partners in these. areas:  (a) energy harvesting devices for characterization and modeling in Army-relevant scenarios; (b) devices and topologies that exploit multi-modal energy transduction for more power dense and predictable generation; (c) thermal to electric materials and devices development; (d) fuel combustion catalyst development; (e) multi-fuel or JP-8 fueled meso- and micro-combustion modeling and devices to be integrated
with thermal to electric devices; and (f) energy conversion and harvesting, component integration and systems modeling.

(4) Power Sources for Autonomous Platforms:  Power/energy systems with catalytic biomass conversion for chemical storage generation that would enable commercial fuel cell technology to power robotic and vehicular platforms with superior endurance to current power systems.  ARL seeks collaborative partners in these areas:  (a) design, modeling and fabrication and system integration; (b) process optimization; and (c) additive manufacturing of small biomass conversion reactors (Principal Investigators: Ivan Lee, Dat Tran)."

Principal Investigators:

Morris Berman, morris.s.berman.civ@mail.mil, (301) 394-4188 [Areas  1, 4]
Don Porschet, donald.h.porschet.civ@mail.mil, (301) 394-5528 [Area 1, 2]
Bruce Geil, bruce.r.geil.civ@mail.mil, (301) 394-3190 [Area 1, 2]
C. Mike Waits, Ph.D., christopher.m.waits.civ@mail.mil, (301) 394-0057 [Area 3]
Patrick Taylor, Ph.D., patrick.j.taylor36.civ@mail.mil, (301) 394-1475 [Area 3]
Ivan Lee, Ph.D., ivan.c.lee2.civ@mail.mil, (301) 394-0292 [Areas 3, 4]
Dat Tran, Ph.D., dat.t.tran4.civ@mail.mil, (301) 394-0293 [Areas 3, 4]

Fuel Processing Power Sources (ALC)

Power/energy conversion systems with fuel processing for hydrogen generation would enable commercial fuel cell technology to power robotic and vehicular platforms with superior endurance to current power systems. ARL seeks collaborative partners in (a) design, modeling and fabrication and system integration; (b) computational calculations of desulfurization chemistry; (c) modeling of surface chemistry on palladium alloy surfaces; and (d) electron microscopy imaging, including sample preparation.

Principal Investigators:

Ivan Lee, Ph.D., ivan.c.lee2.civ@mail.mil, (301) 394-0292
Dat Tran, Ph.D., dat.t.tran4.civ@mail.mil, (301) 394-0293

High-Efficiency Gas Turbine Engine Components (APG and ARL Field Element at NASA Glenn Research Center)

Collaborators are sought to conduct unique propulsion research to discover innovative and maturate high-risk, novel concepts and technologies beneficial to enable higher power or power on demand for the next-generation, hover-efficient, Army air vehicle. Next-generation systems require propulsion systems that substantially reduce fuel consumption and increase engine power density. Possible areas of study include extending the current state-of-the-art in compressors, combustors, and turbines. Research may include evaluation of hybrid systems; adaptive engine/power system architecture; engine on demand and mixed mode engine concepts; high heat release compact combustors; sequential combustion; novel architectures/cycles; alternative propulsion concepts; efficient, compact, durable lightweight, high-temperature turbomachinery systems and components. Research includes functionally graded high-temperature bulk substrate and thermal barrier coating materials, sensing; and probabilistic lifing assessment of emerging and next-generation engine materials such as ceramic matrix composites and sand-phobic environmental barrier coatings. Collaborative research on the use of high-temperature capable smart materials such as SMAs or other actuators for adaptive, articulating compressor or turbine blade concepts for improved aerodynamic efficiency is sought. Conducting bench and component-level experimental studies will focus on technologies to optimize future Army Vertical Lift mission performance (such as fuel consumption, range, time on station) across the full spectrum of extreme environmental conditions (high hot, high cold, etc.).

Principal Investigators:

Waldo A. Acosta, waldo.a.acosta.civ@mail.mil, (216) 433-3393
Anindya Ghoshal, Ph.D., anindya.ghoshal.civ@mail.mil, (410) 278-7358
Muthuvel Murugan, Ph.D., muthuvel.murugan.civ@mail.mil, (410) 278-7903
Michael Walock, PhD., michael.j.walock.civ@mail.mil, (410) 278-9018

Supporting Facilities:
High-Temperature Propulsion Components Laboratory (APG) [ScMvr-6]

  • Atmospheric jet burner rig with 3000 degree F max temperature (165 degree C)
  • Hot gas mass flows 0.3 to 0.75 lbs/sec
  • Mach numbers of approximately 0.3 to 0.8 M
  • Impinging velocities of approximately 200-519 m/s
  • Thermomechanical fatigue testing systems (up to 1500 deg. C)
  • Scanning Acoustic Microscopy for near and subsurface materials characterization
  • FLIR IR imaging system (calibrated to 2000 degree C) and pyrometry (metallics and ceramic composites) for temperature measurements
  • Laser Doppler Velocimetry for particle tracking
  • Particle Image Velocimetry for full field particulate flow measurements
  • Hot Particulate Ingestion Testing System (salt and sand) with water dust collection system
  • Air Jet erosion rig for ambient and high temperature (up to 1060 deg. C) particulate erosion substantiation
  • Button Cell Flame rig to test multiple material compositions simultaneously under oxy-acetylene and oxy-propane flames (>5000 degree F)

Transonic Turbine Blade Research Facility (Glenn Research Center)

  • Air supply and exhaust pressures 16.5 psia and 2 psia
  • Test section designed for airfoils with a span up to 6 inches
  • Test section equipped with boundary layer bleed
  • High degree of airflow turning, infinitely adjustable incidence angle, and high transonic flow rates

Small Engine Compressor Research Facility (Glenn Research Center)

  • Compressor speeds up to 60 000 rpm achieving overall pressure ratios up to 30:1
  • Atmospheric intake, a 40-psig pressure source, or 10-psig refrigerated air system.
  • Compressors up to 20 inches in diameter

Combustion Research Facility (Glenn Research Center)

  • Inlet air up to 450 psig and 1100 degree F non-vitiated
  • Air flows up to 20 lbs/second
  • Jet-A, JP-5, JP-8, synthetics and blends
  • Optical access for non-intrusive measurements, planar laser-induced fluorescence (PLIF) imaging, Planar Mie scattering, Phase/Doppler particle analysis (PDPA), focused Schlieren imaging and light sheet photography

Turbomachinery Heat Transfer Tunnel (Glenn Research Center)

  • Simulates turbine flow passages or transition ducts
  • Flow rates up to 10 lbs/second
  • Transient and steady heat transfer measurements

Tribology and Lubrication Science for High-Performance Power Transmission (APG and NASA Glenn Research Center Field Element)

Innovative approaches are needed to create material and tribological solutions for high performance and extreme lubrication conditions.  We aim to increase our understanding of the physics and chemistry of extreme lubrication conditions, thermomechanical degradation, and material failures at moving interfaces to support the development of robust vehicle drive trains with increased power density capabilities. Collaborations are sought in the study of new materials, development of improved modeling, and integration of the following new measurement methods:
(a) Innovative approaches are needed to create material and tribological solutions for high-performance and extreme lubrication conditions.  These approaches may consist of engineered surface structures, solid films, functional coatings, modified surface chemistry, nanoscale or colloidal lubricant additives, and novel lubricant chemistry;
(b) Collaborations are sought to improve lubrication modeling in high-speed tribological contacts throughout the regime from elastohydrodynamic to boundary lubrication, particularly under adverse conditions;
(c) New methods are sought that can measure high-speed tribological contacts in situ, particularly fluid film properties and physical/chemical changes of the surfaces in contact.
Tribological studies of rotorcraft transmission components for improved survivability under loss-of-lubrication conditions are of particular interest.  Experimental and computational studies on helicopter and ground vehicle drive system components examine gears, bearings, and transmissions.  Coupon-level fundamental studies focus on physical failure mechanisms for helicopter transmission under loss-of-oil conditions.

Principal Investigators:

Stephen Berkebile, Ph.D., stephen.p.berkebile.civ@mail.mil, (410) 278-9547
Brian Dykas, Ph.D., P.E., brian.d.dykas.civ@mail.mil, (410) 278-9545

Supporting Facility:
Powertrain Tribology and Components Laboratories (APG) [ScMvr-8]
These  labs are equipped to study fundamental friction, wear and lubrication phenomena as well as material response and durability, dynamics and diagnostic methods. Tribometers are available to simulate continuous rolling/sliding contacts as well as reciprocating contacts. The laboratories also contain purpose-built and versatile research rigs for study of bearings, gears and other mechanical components under normal and adverse conditions up to speeds of 60,000 rpm. A transmission research stand is also under constructions for drivetrains up to 2000 hp.  Instruments for the characterization of specimens are also available along with a wide range of additional support instrumentation.
Rotorcraft Propulsion Laboratories (ARL Extended)
Facilities include the spur gear fatigue rigs used to investigate accelerated fatigue life for standard spur gears including effect of materials, heat teat, shot peen, and lubricants,. The standard gears are 88.9 mm (3.5") pitch diameter, 6.3 mm  (1/4") face width spur gears  and speeds up to 10,000 rpm. One rig configured specifically for loss-of-oil tests with the ability to run emergency lube configurations (oil mist, grease injection, drip lubrication, etc.). The pin-on-disk laboratory allows continuous monitoring of friction for specific pin geometries loaded against a flat plate under lubricated and dry conditions at reciprocating sliding frequencies from 2.5 to 50HZ , amplitudes from 1 to 15 mm, loads from 10 to 250 N, and temperatures up to 600°C.
Equipment Available:
High-speed ball-on-disc tribometer, UMT modular tribometers, hardness tester, optical and confocal laser microscopy, Auger emission spectrometer, 25krpm and 60 krpm component stands, 22-kip servo-hydraulic mechanical testing machines, 5,000 rpm multi-station mechanical component stand, grease degradation bearing stand, gear and bearing diagnostics rigs, transmission test stand, vibration and acoustic emission instrumentation, laser vibrometer.

Combustion Sciences for Advanced Propulsion Systems (APG)

We are currently investigating detailed spray and combustion processes of various fuel injector designs and fuel properties (diesel, JP-8, F-24, and alternative jet fuels) to further the fundamental understanding of the fuel physical and chemical effects on engine combustion in high-temperature and high-pressure conditions.  Experimentally collected data are used to advance spray and combustion models that are being embedded in commercial engine codes to facilitate advanced engine development.

Principal Investigators:

Jacob Temme, Ph.D., Jacob.e.temme.ctr@mail.mil, (410) 278-9455
Luis Bravo, Ph.D., luis.g.bravo2civ@mail.mil, (410) 278-9525

Supporting Facility:
Spray Combustion Research Laboratory (APG) [ScMvr-10]
ARL has an operating high-temperature pressure vessel (HTPV) system with various laser diagnostics to measure liquid spray and combustion processes. There are three different fuel benches:  one common-rail fuel bench, one injector fuel bench that is hydraulically-actuated and electronically-controlled, and one air pump-driven fuel bench.  Each bench delivers fuel to an injector at various fuel pressures (over 2000 bars with the air pump-driven fuel bench) with different injector types. The injector analyzer bench can characterize and map an injector, and various injector samples.  The HTPV has the capability to operate up to 150 bar chamber pressure, 1000 K chamber temperature, and 0% to 21% oxygen concentrations in the test section.  All three parameters can be independently controlled.  This laboratory was established to (1) provide an understanding of injector performance under “realistic” operating conditions for range of injector parameters, (2) provide an understanding of the impact of fuel properties on the detailed spray and combustion processes, and (3) generate a database of spray and combustion measurements.  These data are being used in 3D Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) codes to simulate real engine spray and combustion processes, including piston motion and in-cylinder turbulence.
Equipment Available:  
High-temperature pressure vessel system, high-speed Mie and Schlieren imaging, shadowgraph imaging, planar laser-induced fluorescence (PLIF), laser-induced fluorescence (LIF), laser-induced incandescence (LII), Raman spectrograph, Raleigh thermometry, high-speed CMOS camera, CCD camera, and various other optics, LaVision Davis packages, IAV injection analyzer, common-rail fuel bench, HEUI fuel bench, and air-driven pump fuel bench.

Innovative Propulsion Technologies for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (APG)

Perform research to develop innovative propulsion component technologies by improving fuel-air mixing and combustion to extend operation capability of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS).

Principal Investigators:

Michael Szedlmayer, Ph.D., michael.t.szedlmayer.civ@mail.mil, (410) 278-9020
Kenneth Kim, Ph.D., kenneth.s.kim11.civ@mail.mil , (410)278-9525
Luis Bravo, Ph.D., luis.g.bravo2.civ@mail.mil, (410) 278-9525

Supporting Facility:
Small Engine Research Center (APG) [ScMVr-12]
The Small Engine Research Center (SERC) houses the Small Engine Combustion Research Laboratory (SECRL) and the Small Engine Altitude Research Facility (SMEARF).  The center supports research to develop innovative propulsion component technologies by improving fuel-air mixing and combustion to extend operation capability of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS).

The SECRL is equipped with a 302-hp dual-ended AC dynamometer and inline torque meters on both ends.   It has a Ricardo Hydra single-cylinder thermal/optically accessible engine on one end and various multi- or single-cylinder opposed piston engines on the other end. The SERCL has an Altech 7-gas analytical instrument, 2-ch AVL noise meter, AVL opacimeter, B&K research-grade microphones, and various specialty sensors and equipment.

The SMEARF houses an altitude chamber capable of an altitude up to 25,000 ft and combustion air temperatures ranging from  -40F to 130F.  It is equipped with two AC dynamometers for engines from 1 to 250 hp and inline torque meter.  Each engine bench has its own dedicated extensive Data Acquisition and Control (DAC) system, closed-loop control cooling column, closed-loop control charge air cooler, and ECM Lambda 5220 analyzers.

Durable and Active Power Transmissions (APG and NASA Glenn Research Center Field Element)

ARL is conducting research into next generation power transfer for Army vehicles with optimized power density and durability.  The application of multi- or variable-ratio transmissions to helicopter propulsion is critical to high speed vehicles capable of vertical flight, and advancements are needed in dynamics, diagnostics and modeling of these complex, flexible systems.  Improved health state awareness will be required to move beyond safe life designs, requiring accurate high-fidelity model-based dynamics and diagnostics including damage, with the complementary application of machine learning techniques.   Collaborations are sought in advanced modeling of highly stressed multibody mechanical systems for power transfer in complex configurations; epicyclic gear dynamics; acoustic emission diagnostics in rotating systems; probabilistic life estimation; and modeling and simulation for damage progression and failure prediction. The research links to both the Tactical Unit Energy Independence and Manipulating Physics of Failure for Robust Performance of Materials ERAs.

Principal Investigators:

Adrian Hood, Ph.D., adrian.a.hood.civ@mail.mil, (410) 278-9581
Mark Valco, Ph.D., mark.j.valco.civ@mail.mil, (216) 433-3717
Waldo A. Acosta, waldo.a.acosta.civ@mail.mil, (216) 433-3393
Brian Dykas, Ph.D. P.E., brian.d.dykas.civ@mail.mil, (410) 278-9545

Supporting Facility:
Powertrain Tribology and Components Laboratories (APG) [ScMvr-8]
These  labs are equipped to study fundamental friction, wear and lubrication phenomena as well as material response and durability, dynamics and diagnostic methods. Tribometers are available to simulate continuous rolling/sliding contacts as well as reciprocating contacts. The laboratories also contain purpose-built and versatile research rigs for study of bearings, gears and other mechanical components under normal and adverse conditions up to speeds of 60,000 rpm. A transmission research stand is also under constructions for drivetrains up to 2000 hp.  Instruments for the characterization of specimens are also available along with a wide range of additional support instrumentation.
Rotorcraft Propulsion Laboratories (ARL Extended)
The variable speed transmission rig’s electrically regenerative configuration allows for versatility in allowable designs available to test with up to 15,000 RPM input speed with a 7,500-15,000 RPM allowable output speed (0-50% reduction ration). Torque capability up to 140 ft-lb from 0-7500 rpm and 200-hp from 7500-15000 rpm. It’s operation allows for scripted speed, torque, & clutch loading profiles. The full-scale 500 hp helicopter transmission consists of a single input 6,200-36,000 rpm, output 350 rpm, powered by 150 kW (200hp) variable speed electric motor in a closed-loop arrangement, differential torque loading mechanism. It features transmission mast lift and bending load capability and simulates transmission mast lift and bending loads.

Less Metallic, Less Mechanical Drivetrains (APG and NASA Glenn Research Center Field Element)

ARL seeks collaborative research opportunities with outside organizations on novel propulsion power transfer components and concepts emphasizing reduced metallic content and fewer mechanical contacts.  Research includes the application of unconventional, composite and hybrid material systems to replace steel-based dynamic components and tribocontacts within vehicle drivetrains.  Novel approaches to non-contact power transfer such as advanced magnetic gears are desired for aviation and ground vehicles.  Hybrid and electrical drivetrain research for aerial vehicles is also of critical interest, including electric machines with ultrahigh specific power, distributed propulsion architectures, and the critical enabling technologies associated with these devices.

Principal Investigators:

Kelsen LaBerge, Ph.D., kelsen.e.laberge.civ@mail.mil, (216) 433-2078
Mark Valco, Ph.D., mark.j.valco.civ@mail.mil, (216) 433-3717
Brian Dykas, Ph.D., P.E., brian.d.dykas.civ@mail.mil, (410) 278-9545
Mark Riggs,, mark.r.riggs.civ@mail.mil, (410) 278-9604
Waldo A. Acosta, waldo.a.acosta.civ@mail.mil, (216) 433-3393

Supporting Facility:
Powertrain Tribology and Components Laboratories (APG) [ScMvr-8]
These  labs are equipped to study fundamental friction, wear and lubrication phenomena as well as material response and durability, dynamics and diagnostic methods. Tribometers are available to simulate continuous rolling/sliding contacts as well as reciprocating contacts. The laboratories also contain purpose-built and versatile research rigs for study of bearings, gears and other mechanical components under normal and adverse conditions up to speeds of 60,000 rpm. A transmission research stand is also under constructions for drivetrains up to 2000 hp.  Instruments for the characterization of specimens are also available along with a wide range of additional support instrumentation.
Rotorcraft Propulsion Laboratories (ARL Extended)
The high speed helical rear laboratory is utilized for the study of thermal behavior in high-speed helical gears, including composite/metal hybrid gears. Its operation allows for the control of lube oil pressure, flow, and temperature at various torque levels and speeds.  Power level to 4000 kW (5000 hp) powered by 400 kW (500 hp) DC drive motor in a closed-loop, system with test gearbox and mirror-image "slave" gearbox. Each gearbox has input gear, three idlers, and bull gear