Army researchers assess foreign technologies

August 08, 2017

By David McNally, ARL Public Affairs

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Aug. 7, 2017) -- The U.S. Army is pursuing and assessing new and innovative ideas across the globe with the goal of discovering technology solutions, officials said.

As new technologies are emerging in laboratories and universities around the world, the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, or RDECOM, in coordination with the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research and Technology, are the eyes and ears for American tech prowess.

RDECOM administers the Foreign Technology (and Science) Assessment Support program known as FTAS to encourage investigations of new ideas that may offer advantages to the Army.

This year, the service awarded funding for four unique assessment projects to U.S. Army Research Laboratory subject matter experts.

Embedded Sensing for Gas Turbine Component Health Monitoring United Kingdom $150,000
Cavitation Models for Mitigation Material Erosion in Engine Injectors Austria $150,000
High Strength Low Alloy Nitrogen Steels Germany $150,000
Ceramic Manufacturing Austria $95,000

An understanding of the dynamics has been limited due in part to the restricted experimental access, he said. Physics-based models and simulations will play a crucial role in providing unique insights of the internal nozzle flow (fuel injector) dynamics.

According to Army Regulation 70-41, the FTAS program awards funding to "subject matter experts for initial resources to conduct technology assessments, basic research studies and test and evaluation efforts of unique foreign technologies. The program provides funding for about a year of initial assessment."

At the laboratory's Vehicle Technology Directorate, Dr. Luis Bravo is using supercomputers to evaluate a state-of the-art computational fluid dynamics tool developed at Anstalt für Verbrennungskraftmaschinen List, or AVL, an engine research company in Austria.

"This award allows us to closely examine innovative foreign technology solutions aimed at quantifying cavitation-induced material damage in engine fuel injector nozzles and optimize key combustion processes to increase both the life and efficiency of our combat vehicles", Bravo said.

Bravo said they will leverage ARL's supercomputing power to run large parameter studies and assess the accuracy of AVL's physics based models in predicting unsteady cavitating internal flows and non-local effects such as inception and implosion of fuel vapor bubbles. This unique approach will allow us to quantify its impact on erosion and potential material damage. The program allows us to acquire the foreign technology, characterize its performance on our systems and compare it with our domestic computer models. Further, the findings will potentially generate new ideas that can lead to better solutions in fuel injector technologies, he said.

Dr. Muthuvel Murugan, another researcher working on vehicle technology, said the proposal he and his co-workers are evaluating involves embedded sensing for gas turbine component health monitoring.

"This will definitely help us in seeing how far the foreign technology can go in assessing the component health inside an engine," Murugan said. "This program allows us to buy these sensors and equipment, test it and compare it to domestic technology solutions."

Murugan and his fellow researchers found a United Kingdom company that developed a non-intrusive fiber-optics based embedded sensor that may provide a solution for monitoring the health of a gas turbine engine.

"Maybe we can come up with better sensing for engines and better controls, which will optimize the design for future engines," he said.

Proposals for funding are evaluated by RDECOM, which forwards them to DASA(R&T) for final funding approval.

Ann Martin, ARL Technology Transfer and Outreach Office, said the process promotes cooperation between the Army and international researchers as a means to "advance science and engineering knowledge and technical capabilities in areas relevant to the overall U.S. Army mission."

"The program also reduces the risk of bringing foreign technology into the labs by providing funds for the initial investigation to see if it is worth pursuing further," she said.

The U.S. Army Research Laboratory, currently celebrating 25 years of excellence in Army science and technology, is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to provide innovative research, development and engineering to produce capabilities that provide decisive overmatch to the Army against the complexities of the current and future operating environments in support of the joint warfighter and the nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.


Last Update / Reviewed: August 8, 2017