- Apply to UW
- Programs & Majors
- Cost & Financial Aid
- Current Students
- UW Life
- About UW
Published November 14, 2019
Two University of Wyoming Department of Mechanical Engineering faculty members are among researchers in an efficient jet engine turbine project funded through a U.S. Department of Energy grant.
Professor Carl Frick, chair of the UW department, and Associate Professor Ray Fertig are collaborating with Penn State University (PSU) researchers, led by Stephen Lynch, a UW alumnus and current PSU associate professor.
The three-year, $1 million grant will fund research to investigate a fundamentally new approach to fabrication of gas turbine engine vanes using additive manufacturing (3D printing) of ceramic matrix composites (CMCs) with optimized cooling design. Current gas turbines manufactured with superalloy materials are near their upper limit of temperature; additional engine efficiencies will require new materials that can tolerate higher temperatures.
CMCs are ideal for this application but are difficult to fabricate with appropriate cooling. The novel approach taken by the UW researchers will focus on combining their new manufacturing technique with advanced thermomechanical optimization approaches to redesign completely the interior structure and cooling of CMC turbine vanes.
Frick’s team at UW will 3D print a turbine vane with internal cooling out of silicon oxycarbide matrix with embedded silicon carbide fibers for testing in transonic conditions. Fertig’s team will use computational modeling to simulate and design the optimized blades for thermomechanical performance.
Lynch and his Penn State collaborator and professor, Michael Hickner, will test the UW prototypes, refine the 3D printing resins and focus on characterization, initial turbine cooling design and aerothermal testing.
Stephan Brinckmann, a UW Ph.D. candidate in mechanical engineering from Clinton, N.J., and Jackson Rambough, a first-year mechanical engineering graduate student from Kingston, Wash., also have been hired as part of the project to help produce the 3D printed materials. Both students spent most of the summer moving equipment and assembling the materials lab inside UW’s new Engineering Education and Research Building (EERB) and are excited about the collaborative environment offered by the other labs inside the facility.
“If we have a problem that, say, a chemistry student may have more knowledge on, we can literally walk across the hall and get answers to our questions,” Rambough says.
Brinckmann adds that their research is benefiting from neighboring department experts.
“Materials science is interdisciplinary by nature, so having the proximity to other disciplines inside the EERB has been really beneficial to our research,” he says.