Scientists from the U.S. and Russia, engaged in a unique collaboration organized by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, are conducting research in high-speed wind tunnel facilities to make discoveries in plasma-assisted combustion and plasma-based flow control.
"The success of our effort is based upon a mutually-beneficial collaboration that was established by AFOSR program manager, Dr. Julian Tishkoff. His leadership was the key to the successful development of this technology," said Prof. Doyle Knight of Rutgers University who participated in the research.
"Unlike conventional methods for flight control, plasma-based technology may be a cutting-edge approach to high speed air vehicles' flight control because it does not use moving mechanical systems, but rather microwave and laser technology to create a plasma in a region of the flowfield," said Knight. "The response time for the plasma-based system is essentially a nanosecond, and the plasma is produced in a microsecond."
The scientists have developed a unique computational model for simulated plasma generation by a microwave pulse and interaction of the plasma around an aerodynamic body.
The scientists from Russia brought many years of sophisticated theoretical knowledge, understanding of plasmas, and experience working in high-energy microwave facilities to the research project.
"Our model, which can be used to examine various concepts for light control of generic aircraft shapes, has been validated by comparison with experimental data from St. Petersburg State University in Russia," said Knight.
Some of the initial plasma research for propulsion was transitioned to the Air Force Research Laboratory Propulsion Directorate laboratory of Dr. Campbell Carter where it was well-received. Carter believed the research would redefine combustion and related diagnostics within the international community at a time when economic factors in Russia enabled the U.S. to work with some very talented scientists there.
"It has been my observation that the researchers from Russia are very resourceful because they do not have access to instrumentation and electronics that are only available in the U.S.," said Carter. "I have been most involved with Dr. Sergey Leonov of the Russian Academy of Sciences, whose research has been done at a very high level, and he is by far one of the most talented researchers because his work is innovative, well executed, interesting and cleverly done."
In addition to Tishkoff, Knight, Bain and Carter, other AFOSR-funded scientists and engineers joining the collaboration included: Professor Richard Miles of Princeton University; AFOSR program manager, John Schmisseur; European Office of Aerospace Research and Development program manager, Surya Surampudi; former EOARD program managers Mark Maurice, Charbel Rafoul and Wayne Donaldson; Datta Gaitonde and Charles Suchomel of the AFRL Air Vehicles Directorate; Biswa Ganguly and Alan Garscadden of the AFRL Propulsion Directorate; Yuri Kolesnichenko, Valentin Bituryin, Sergey Leonov and Anatoli Klimov of the Joint Institutes of High Temperatures; Igor Mashek and Valery Lashkov of St. Petersburg State University; Alexander Kuranov of the Leninentz Holding Company; Andrey Alexandrov and Valery Shibkov of Lomonosov Moscow State University; Igor Esakov, Kiril Khodotaev and Valdimir Bychkov of the Moscow Radio Technical Institute; Andrey Starikovskii and Svetlana Starikovskaia of Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology; and Nina Yurchenko of the Ukrainian Institute of Hydromechanics.
"This collaboration became an ongoing basic research effort to understand the impact of weakly ionized gases on the performance of aerospace systems," said Tishkoff. "AFOSR funded research in the United States, Russia and Ukraine to address this objective and encourage collaborations among the participants."
Enthusiasm for the project is continuing to gain momentum in the U.S., Russia and Ukraine, where program managers and researchers see the collaborative effort as being crucial in conducting advanced research in flow plasma.
"We're very excited about the potential new technologies that may be enabled by this successful research," said Schmisseur. "This project has set the standard for innovative collaborations between international research partners, and Tishkoff, our lead program manager in this area has done a tremendous job of coordinating."
Dr. Surya Surampudi from EOARD is satisfied with the initiative and believes that it has been key to facilitating collaborative research among the U.S., Russia and Ukraine.
"It is a great pleasure working with these talented scientists, who are developing new methods in plasma assisted aerodynamics and combustion," he said.