UAH Defense Grant Leads to Hypersonics Equipment

Dr. Robert Frederick is the principal investigator on the project that’s bringing new equipment to the PRC. (Photo/Michael Mercier for UAH)

A grant from the Department of Defense will help purchase equipment that University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) scientists can use to further their research about new fuels for hypersonic vehicles.

The nearly $200,000 grant is part of an overall $50 million in DOD awards to 150 university researchers in 33 states as part of the Defense University Research Instrumentation Program.

UAH will use its grant to purchase a pyrolysis-gas chromatography/mass spectroscopy instrument.

Just what is that?

“This is an instrument to measure and analyze the gases that come off scramjet and ramjet fuels,” says Dr. Robert Frederick, director of UAH’s Propulsion Research Center. “We’re looking for new solid ramjet fuels that expand the operating envelope and range of supersonic and hypersonic vehicles.”

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DOD is using its 2021 DURIP grants to “support equipment and instrumentation to accelerate basic research in quantum sciences, materials design, development and characterization, machine learning, hypersonics and more,” UAH says.

It’s the latter — hypersonics — that is top of mind in UAH’s research.

“A potential application of these solid polymer fuels is in high-speed air breathing propulsion for hypersonic flight vehicles,” says Dr. Daniel Jones, one of the researchers. “Hypersonic flight has seen resurgence in research in recent years for both defense and civilian applications.”

Once the new equipment arrives, experiments are expected to start in early fiscal year 2022.

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