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Air Force Awards UDRI $31.5 Million Contract

Air Force Awards UDRI $31.5 Million Contract

A five-year, $31.5 million ceiling contract from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base to the University of Dayton Research Institute will be used to improve conventional fuels and develop advanced fuels, additives and fuel/combustion technologies for advanced aircraft and aerospace systems.

The contract is the largest to be awarded to UDRI and positions the group as one of the country’s leading research facilities to provide technology for higher engine efficiencies, while significantly lowering fuel costs.

“We are excited about the promise and the possibilities of discovery this contract will afford the University's Fuels and Combustion Center. It has always been our shared vision that when the world’s scientific community and aerospace industries think about the need for advances in aerospace fuels and combustion, they will immediately think of Dayton,” said Colonel Al Janiszewski, director of the Air Force Research Laboratory's propulsion directorate at WPAFB.

“With the recent establishment of the von Ohain Fuels and Combustion Center at UD along with this sizeable contract, we are advancing on that goal.

“This program will directly support the Department of Defense,” he said. “We awarded the contract to UDRI because they’ve earned a reputation in this field, and the partnership with them will allow us to directly transition the results to the companies developing ‘next generation’ advanced aerospace systems.”

What may have helped poise UDRI for this work is the University’s new Fuels and Combustion Center in the School of Engineering. The center is one of the largest academic institutions working with the United States Air Force in the area of fuels and combustion science. Named for former UDRI researcher Hans von Ohain, co-inventor of the jet engine in 1939 in Germany, the center is focused on developing technologies for military and commercial applications.  

According to Dilip Ballal, director of the von Ohain center, most aircraft rely on fuel as a source of thermal management for subsystems as well as propelling the aircraft forward. “While existing fuel technologies have been sufficient to support current aerospace systems, they will be limited in new and future systems. Therefore, significant advancements are necessary and that’s what we aim to accomplish.”

In addition to better fuel, researchers are developing cleaner fuel. Increasingly, environmental issues are being linked to aviation in the search for ultra clean low sulfur fuels, reduced particulate matter emissions and reduced CO2 emissions.

“Anytime you can reduce pollution in air transportation, you improve the environment,” said Gordon Sargent, vice president for graduate studies and research. “The development of a new combustion process will increase fuel efficiency, so this country won’t need to be as dependent on foreign oil.”     

Ballal said the partnership with Wright-Patterson Air Force Base helps complete a circle. “The work we’ve been able to accomplish in fuel and combustion technology thus far helped us win the Air Force contract in the first place,” said Ballal. “And the contract opens many doors for the University by supporting graduate students and faculty in the School of Engineering to complete more research.”

Graduate student support will be upwards of $350,000 during this time. As of now, $2,220,760 of the funds have been obligated, and further funds will be awarded as individual orders are issued. The work will be completed in April 2008.

“This contract will go a long way to foster the learning of promising young scientists in the hands-on atmosphere championed by UD,” Janiszewski said. “By exposing these students to the timely challenges and promising opportunities of fuels and combustion research, we can generate the excitement required to entice our youth into a career in science and engineering. If we can capture the hearts, souls and minds of our youth, then we can successfully compete in the future.”

UD officials believe this award will position researchers to win more contracts from other federal agencies. “The University has always had a strong commitment to engineering education and scholarly research,” said Michael McCabe, director of UDRI. “UDRI has always been a major hitter, but the von Ohain center and this contract with Wright-Patt helps to keep us at the top of our game.”

“We are committed to providing the nation with technologies that will change the future of combustion fuels research,” Janiszewski pointed out. “UD, through their work done in the von Ohain Fuels and Combustion Center, will help us achieve that vision.”

May 1, 2003

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