Tech

December 3, 2012

New AFRL laboratory forging future of energy-efficient aircraft

With an eye toward the energy optimization needs of future military aircraft, the Air Force Research Laboratory is cutting the ribbon on a new, state-of-the-art facility to meet the research and development demands of complex and rapidly-changing platforms.

The Advanced Power and Thermal Research Lab is a 53,000 square foot, three-story, multi-laboratory facility devoted to fundamental and applied energy, power, and thermal research. This modern building includes areas for materials processing, data acquisition, clean and dry rooms, and fabrication facilities. It also contains explosion-proof research chambers for advanced battery research, and Radio Frequency shielded labs for re-search in electro-magnetic interference. Spacious common areas with whiteboards allow for collaboration and discussion.

According to Doug Bowers, director of the AFRL Aerospace Systems Directorate, AFRL recognized a need for a new power and thermal research facility because of the ever-changing and growing demands for increased aircraft power, greater efficiency, expanded mission requirements, and cost-savings initiatives. Today’s Air Force demands the lightest, most responsive, and most thermally-efficient designs, and the APTRL will provide a home for the cutting-edge research that can bring these efforts to fruition.

The APTRL was born from a complete refurbishment of the former Static Test Laboratory structure, which since 1934 had hosted a vast array of structural and mechanical testing, but had gone largely unused as a laboratory environment for many years. The existing facility was internally demolished and totally redesigned and rebuilt with an all-new modern infrastructure designed to meet laboratory requirements for decades to come.

The building was refurbished with sustainable design and environmental considerations in mind, fully meeting the criteria for a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold certification in accordance with the U.S.

Green Building Council’s Green Buildings Rating System and complying with the Energy Independence and Se-curity Act.

“It’s very rewarding to see an historic building come back to life in the way this one has,” says Bowers. “We have preserved both the legacy and the scientific value of this facility, and it will serve as a key research hub for all of AFRL.”

AFRL will dedicate the APTRL with a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10:00 a.m., December 7, 2012. A num-ber of research efforts are already underway in the new facility, and when the lab is fully stood-up, core technol-ogy focus areas will include thermal management, mechanical energy conversion, power distribution, power electronic development, and electrochemistry research.

“With the establishment of the Advanced Power and Thermal Research Lab, we hope to forge a new direction for aircraft technologies and make the Dayton region a world leader in power, thermal, and energy research,” says Bowers.

 




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