Texas A&M Researchers Earn $2 Million Air Force Grant

By: Stephanie Ando Email
By: Stephanie Ando Email

Three Texas A&M professors hope to change the way high speed aircrafts are designed, by studying turbulence.

The U-S Air Force recently gave the team a 2.2 million dollar grant to fund their research over the next three years.

Even though the goal may be to design faster aircrafts, the revolutionary research taking place at the National Aerothermochemistry Laboratory at Easterwood Airport actually started at Starbucks.

"We wrote some numbers in a napkin and realized we had a great idea," said Diego Donzis, an Assistant Professor at Texas A&M.

Donzis is leading up the project with Simon North, a Professor of Chemistry at Texas A&M, and Rodney Bowersox, Professor of Aerospace Engineering.

The idea is to take energy created by turbulence on the outside of aircrafts, and channel it into the engine to make it go faster. The hard part is figuring out how.

"This is a very interesting project because we have to develop the tools ourselves," said Donzis. "If we can control how turbulence interacts with these molecules, we can perhaps cool the surface of an airplane and make it go faster."

Their lab may be at a small airport, but you won't find the research or technology these A&M professors use anywhere else in the world. However, they aren't running tests on full size airplanes yet.

"We work on things that are very much smaller than actual sizes," said North. "The ultimate goal would be to develop models that are so good that we can do these on computers before spending a lot of money trying to build aircrafts and run tests on them."

Their research could eventually be applied to Air Force S.C.R.A.M. Jets, or supersonic combustion ram jets used for space entry or national defense.

This team of researchers based at College Station's Easterwood airport is the only team in the world assigned to the project.

The lab at Easterwood Airport was created in 2004, and all the equipment was set up by graduate students.

Right now, the lab is run on about 20 million dollars of research grants.

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