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UTEP Engineers Receive Grant to Develop Hypersonic Materials



Induction furnace
used to create materials that can withstand ultra high temperatures and
hypersonic speeds
Induction furnace used to create materials that can withstand
ultra high temperatures and hypersonic speeds
 
Mechanical Engineering Professors at The University of Texas at El Paso were awarded $350,000 by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) to create materials that can withstand ultra high temperatures and hypersonic speeds.

“It’s based on the speed of sound,” said Dr. Art Bronson. “Hypersonic would be ten times greater than the speed of sound, or hypersonic is 100 times 75 miles per hour.”

Bronson is working with Dr. Jack Chessa, an expert on computational mechanics, to develop a computational design of ceramic composites for use at temperatures above 3000 degrees Farenheit. These materials could be used to create hypersonic vehicles, for space shuttle re-entry, or on other objects exposed to high temperatures.

“Historically, this is the domain of materials scientists,” said Chessa. “They go into the lab and create something and then have to run experimental tests to characterize the materials. It takes years to develop these materials and commercialize them.”

By working together, Bronson and Chessa hope to significantly reduce the amount of time it takes to produce these materials. Instead of taking 30 years to develop and commercialize, they hope to reduce it to 10 years.

“In the past, experimentalists, like myself, would find a new material and then take it to someone like Chessa,” said Bronson. “So we turned it around. We’re doing the computational mechanics first, and then he will tell me what I need to create to better design the material. So, in essence, instead of me driving him, he’s telling me what to do in the lab.”

Although it’s not new technology, Chessa’s ideas about mechanics is what makes this a novel approach.

“This is a joint effort that will help dictate the material development,” said Chessa. “We’re doing this in combination to help each other. With us working together, we’re trying to push the envelope.”