Facilities - Sciences for Maneuver

Catalytic Fuel Conversion Facility (ALC)

This facility enables unique catalysis research related to power and energy applications using military jet fuels and alternative fuels. It is equipped with research tools for catalytic fuel conversion and micro-combustion characterization including a catalyst surface area and chemisorptions analyzer; real time mass spectrometer; gas chromatograph (GC) with sulfur detector for fuel analysis; online micro-GC; infrared spectrometer for in-situ reaction with rapid/step scan capability; an oxygen bomb calorimeter; and automated flow reactors.

Combustion Research Laboratory (APG)

The Combustion Research Laboratory facilitates the development of new combustion systems or improves the operation of existing systems to meet the Army’s mission for single-fuel (JP-8), high efficiency, high powered Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) and ground vehicle systems. It contains a high temperature and high pressure flow-through type combustion chamber; fuel injection analyzer; fuel benches; and various laser optical diagnostic tools. This facility is the only combustion laboratory with these capabilities within the DoD. Research conducted in this laboratory supports the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center (AMRDEC) and U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) Technology Program Agreements (TPAs) and collaborations with other DoD and DoE laboratories, universities, and industries.

Drives Team Facilities (Ohio)

The Drives Team conducts research on transmissions and gearing for rotorcraft and for geared fan propulsion systems on conventional aircraft. The primary goals of drives team research are to improve safety, reduce weight and noise, and increase the life and reliability of gear transmissions. This research involves advanced transmission concepts, transmission load distribution, drive system diagnostics and health monitoring, gear failure mechanisms, gear materials, gear tooth surface improvement and lubricants, gear vibration and noise, gear thermal analysis, and analytical optimization programs to develop improved methods for transmissions design.

Fuel Reformation Laboratory (ALC)

The Fuel Reformation Laboratory supports state-of-the-art fuel processing and fuel reforming research to meet the unique needs of the U.S. Army. For example, the Army’s mobile power applications are an excellent match for fuel cell power sources, but safety and logistical concerns preclude the storage of hydrogen on the battlefield. ARL research shows that using JP-8 or other logistical fuels as a “hydrogen carrier,” and reforming these fuels on-demand into hydrogen, makes fuel cells—with their low maintenance, high efficiency, and quiet operation—extremely advantageous compared to competing power sources.

Heat Engine Systems Altitude Test Facility (APG)

This engine altitude test facility is capable of simulating altitudes from sea level to 25,000 feet and temperatures from -40 to +130 degrees Fahrenheit. Under simulated conditions, researchers test a variety of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) engines for their performance and efficiency. The laboratory space currently includes a propeller test stand and an exhaust gas analyzer and, in the near future, will also include an AC dynamometer engine test bench for small engine research to improve combustion, performance, and efficiency. It is a uniquely singular national asset for evaluating the performance of UAV class engines under actual operating conditions.

High Temperature Propulsion Materials Laboratory (APG)

The High Temperature Propulsion Materials Laboratory contains an atmospheric burner rig with the capability of simulating engine hot-section temperatures up to 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit to experimentally evaluate advanced materials and subcomponents. The burner rig provides hot gas mass flows of approximately 0.3 to 0.75 pounds-per-second, Mach numbers of approximately 0.3 to 0.7, and impinging velocities of approximately 200-519 meters/sec. The facility also includes a 22-kip Material Testing System (MTS) mechanical load frame with a high temperature furnace capable of exposing materials to temperatures over 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit. The laboratory supports exploratory research in advanced turbine airfoil-doped ceramic thermal barrier coatings (TBCs) and ceramic environmental barrier coatings (EBCs) and the evaluation of high temperature engine sensors and other engine hot-section technologies.

Mechanical Components and Tribology Laboratory (APG)

This laboratory evaluates fundamental friction, wear, and lubrication technologies for improved, robust, and powerdense vehicle transmissions. The facility explores innovative methods to extend efficiency and durability of mechanical components such as gears, bearings, splines, clutches, and seals. Researchers analyze operations under extreme conditions, such as oil starvation to identify opportunities for improved survivability, and evaluate mechanical diagnostic techniques to achieve better fault detection and life prediction. Promising drive train technologies pass through the drive train systems laboratory before transitioning to U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Centers and original equipment manufacturers.

Microsystem Aeromechanics Wind Tunnel (APG)

The Microsystem Aeromechanics Wind Tunnel advances the study of fundamental flow physics relevant to micro air vehicle (MAV) flight and assesses vehicle performance in terms of flight efficiency, stability, and control to improve the range, endurance, payload, and maneuverability of handheld aerial platforms. The tunnel is a closed circuit with a closed test section that is 6-feet long with a 3-feet square crosssection. To facilitate a wide range of experiments, the test section is reconfigurable: both sidewalls and ceiling are removed and replaced as necessary. The tunnel floor includes a turntable and optionally mounted model sting with pitch control. A six-component force balance mounts to the sting, providing aerodynamic forces and moments to characterize component and vehicle loadings. The tunnel design results in relatively low levels of free-stream turbulence intensity. A compartment upstream of the test section facilitates the introduction of additional levels of free-stream intensity to systematically study the impact of this variable, which has a significant impact on MAV performance. The test section is surrounded by an optical rail system mounted on motorized linear traverses to support the use of digital particle image velocimetry (DPIV) and other optically-based experimental diagnostic techniques.

Power Conditioning Research Facility (ALC)

The Power Conditioning Research Facility offers a unique collection of power sources, energy storage devices, power loads, thermal management systems, and electronics fabrication resources for the study of high power, power conditioning systems. The facility houses specialized systems for pulsed power and continuous power circuit development; these capabilities are expanding to address the requirements of new technologies such as high power, solid state switches and electric traction drives.

Prognostics and Diagnostics Laboratory (APG)

The Prognostics and Diagnostics (P&D) Laboratory supports and conducts fundamental experimental P&D related efforts within the Army’s Condition-based Maintenance (CBM) Enterprise. This facility houses state-of-the-art P&D hardware, software, and technical capabilities and contains a 22-kip Material Testing Systems (MTS) mechanical load frame with a high temperature furnace capable of exposing materials to temperatures over 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit. It also houses a state-of-the-art, customized, 16-channel high speed acoustic emission system; 64-channel acousto-ultrasonic piezo-based hardware; a high speed (500 KHz) 4-channel Fiber Bragg Grating interrogator unit; Digital Image Correlation (DIC) hardware capable of dynamic strain measurement up to 30 Hz; a hand-held phased array ultrasonic system; a dual mode eddy current system; an Agilient impedance analyzer capable of measuring up to 550 MHz; high speed oscilloscopes and other National Instrument data acquisition systems; Labview Software; a dual head piezoelectric and electromagnetic actuator; and several types of acoustic emission, ultrasonic transducer, Fiber optic, and piezo-based sensors. The P&D Lab supports prognostics health management research activities encompassing various research aspects of structural health monitoring and life prognosis; propulsion health monitoring; machinery and rotary dynamic components diagnostics and prognostics; physics, materials, electronics, advanced sensing, and data acquisition hardware; signal processing; data mining and fusion; and system health management and reasoning.

Robotics Research Facility (Pennsylvania)

This 60 feet x 100 feet structure on the grounds of the Fort Indiantown Gap Pennsylvania National Guard (PNG) Base is a mixed-use facility comprising office space, laboratory space, a workshop, and a high-bay facility. It is adjacent to the PNG’s primary vehicle maneuver area and Combined Arms Collective Training Facility and serves as the staging point for ground and air indoor and outdoor robotics experimentation activities using the PNG ranges.

Rotorcraft Hover Test Facility (Virginia)

The Rotorcraft Hover Test Facility (RHTF) at the NASA Langley Research Center is an ARL-specific facility dedicated to the preliminary testing of helicopter rotor systems and tilt-rotor configurations. The facility acquires some publishable data, but its larger focus is to prepare model systems for entry into the Transonic Dynamics Tunnel (TDT), a wind-tunnel facility located adjacent to the RHTF.

Sensors and Autonomous Systems Experimental Facility (ALC)

The Sensors and Autonomous Systems Experimental Facility evaluates emerging robotics and sensor systems. Researchers assess autonomous navigation in complex and confined 3D and urban environments using a three-story high urban terrain replica; single platform and collaborative platform simultaneous localization and mapping; collaboration of heterogeneous teams of air and ground platforms, robotic perception, and intelligence; the human-robot interface; platform state estimation; mobility from man-portablesized systems to the micro-scale; and next-generation seethrough-the-wall, ground penetrating radar, IED detection, and unattended ground sensor technologies. The facility includes a fully integrated camera and GPS system for ground truthing; a dark room to simulate cave-like environments; a control room and lab environments for system repair, development, and experimental control; various urban features to include sidewalks, stairs, ramps, variable pitch roofs, various ingress and egress features, balconies, telephone poles, and overhead wiring; a three-feet deep sand bed for characterization of buried devices; and a 120-feet long above-ground computer controlled trolley track system for evaluating optical systems and radars.

Single Gear Tooth-Bending Test Facility (Ohio)

NASA Glenn Research Center and ARL teamed together to develop the high speed Single Gear Tooth-Bending Test Facility, which is the only facility of its kind in the world with the capability of achieving the high cycle rates required for infinite-life testing. This facility explores the stress-cycle curve at bending stress loads of approximately 150 ksi and below in support of condition-based maintenance (CBM) and other component life-extension initiatives. The helicopter community’s shift toward a CBM strategy seeks to extend the useful life of gears and bearings in order to increase the overall affordability of the aircraft. Fatigue failures, to include gear tooth-bending fatigue, take on considerable importance as the number of cycles increases. The centerpiece of the facility is the 1,000-Hz High-Cycle Fatigue Test System. The servohydraulic system is capable of maintaining high waveform fidelity at high frequency. It has a static load capacity of ±5,500 lb force and maximum displacement capability of ±1 in. At an operating frequency of 1,000 Hz, the gear tooth is experiencing the bending equivalent to a gear rotating at a speed of 60,000 rpm.

Spesutie Island Robotics Research Facility 2 (APG)

Spesutie Island Robotics Research Facility 2 comprises mixed-use space, electronics, research laboratories, and vehicle repair facilities. Research activities include micromechanics, mechanics, robotics, and specialized materials research. Specialized equipment includes experimental rigs for characterization of electrical properties of conductive composite materials, an oil tank and balance for investigation of forces acting upon flapping wing structures, and a 3D printer for rapid prototyping of experimental models. Researchers use an approximately 25 feet x 35 feet open high-bay facility in the building for experimentation with small mobile ground robotic vehicles.

Spesutie Island Robotics Research Facility 3 (APG)

Spesutie Island Robotics Research Facility 3 includes a specialized containment facility for use in experimentation with rotating systems, including small helicopters and the small rotor test bed. A significant portion of the laboratory has been set aside for installation of a motion capture system and reconfigurable experimentation space that will permit external control of unmanned ground vehicles. The building also houses experimental equipment and a small repair workshop.

Spray Characterization Facility (ALC)

The Spray Characterization Facility supports combustionbased power devices and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). A Phase Doppler Particle Analyzer (PDPA), which enables droplet diameter and droplet velocity spray measurements, anchors the facility. Ancillary tools include high voltage power supplies, shadowgraph imaging optics, and temperature controls. These capabilities allow characterization of electrospray and microfluidics for unique fuel injection scenarios.

Transonic Dynamics Tunnel (Virginia)

The Transonic Dynamics Tunnel (TDT) is a continuous flow wind-tunnel facility capable of speeds up to Mach 1.2 at stagnation pressures up to one atmosphere. The TDT has a 16-feet square slotted test section that has cropped corners and a cross-sectional area of 248 square feet. Air or R-134a, a heavy gas, is used as the test medium. The TDT is particularly suited for rotorcraft aeroelastic testing, primarily because of three advantages associated with the heavy gas. First, the high density of the test medium allows model rotor components to be heavier; thereby, more easily meeting structural design requirements while maintaining dynamic scaling. Second, the low speed of sound in R-134a (approximately 550 feet/second) permits much lower rotor rotational speeds to match full-scale hover tip Mach numbers and reduces the time-scales associated with active control concepts and dynamic response. Finally, the high density environment and low kinematic viscosity of the R-134a test medium increases the Reynolds number throughout the test envelope, which permits more accurate modeling of the full scale aerodynamic environment of the rotor system.

Turbine and Structural Seals Team Facilities (Ohio)

Seals Team Facilities conceive, develop, and test advanced turbine seal concepts to increase efficiency and durability of turbine engines. Current projects include developing non contacting seals for near-infinite life. Seals Team Facilities also perform experimental and analytical research to develop advanced structural seals. This includes propulsion system and control surface seals for next-generation launch vehicles and thermal barrier seals for solid rocket motor nozzle joints.

Universal Drive Train Facility (APG)

This vehicle drive train research facility is capable of evaluating helicopter and ground vehicle power transmission technologies in a system level environment. The flexible lab contains 1,000-horsepower and 250-horsepower motors/ dynamometers capable of simulating inputs and outputs of many Army vehicle transmissions, including helicopter main transmissions and tail rotor drive trains as well as ground vehicle drive train elements. This laboratory proves innovative component technologies, alternate system architectures, and mechanical diagnostic techniques before they transition to the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center (AMRDEC) and the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC). It serves a vital transitional role for  fundamental and applied drive train component technologies.



ALC - Adelphi Laboratory Center, MD

APG - Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD