A hot topic

By Pamela Gregg, Communication Administrator, UDRI

The University of Dayton Research Institute has been awarded an Air Force contract for scientific research and development in advanced power, energy, thermal, integration and control technologies for aircraft systems.

The five-year program will allow researchers in UDRI’s Power and Energy division to perform basic research in the areas of materials, processes, devices and modeling and simulation for advanced high performance aircraft systems and emerging applications. This Air Force Research Laboratory indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract has a $99 million-ceiling and allows UDRI to compete for individual task orders.

As aircraft systems become more technologically advanced, they create an increased demand for power – which in turn creates more heat that must be drawn away from those systems, said Bang Tsao, Group Leader for Advanced Power Components in the Power and Energy division. Power and thermal management are becoming increasingly important because of the increased use of lightweight composite structures in current and future aircraft, which don’t conduct heat out into the atmosphere as well as aluminum alloys.

Current fighter jets are designed so that heat is transferred from powerful electronics and systems to the fuel, which keeps the aircraft cool. If the aircraft is at the end of a mission, however, it will have little fuel aboard to absorb the heat energy.

Researchers must find a way to provide increased power for flight control and other aircraft systems, but they must also manage and dissipate the heat that increased power will create, Tsao said. “So in addition to developing technologies for more efficient power and control systems that can operate at higher temperatures, we must also develop new technologies for integrated thermal management systems that will harvest and store heat and electrical energy for later power needs.”

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