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Ceramic Laser Machining, Real-Time Sensor Applications Examined to Further Gas Turbine Engine Performance

Exploring collaborative research and practical technology transfer opportunities, the University of Wisconsin - Madison sent six distinguished professors and members of the Chancellor's staff to Chetek, Wisconsin to visit with engineers and managers from Turbine Technologies. The UW - Madison team was particularly interested in the company's line of small gas turbine engines manufactured for education and research purposes, as well as unmanned aerial vehicle and distributed power applications, and was seeking ideas as to how to practically apply current University research projects to relevant gas turbine problems.

"Turbine Technologies has always sought out and employed advanced technologies, particularly within our gas turbine applications," said Mike Kutrieb, VP of Turbine Technologies. "We spend a considerable amount of time in research and development in an attempt to extract every bit of performance from our engines. When the University of Wisconsin - Madison requested a visit to view our progress and discuss specific technology transfer opportunities, we were more than eager to meet with them."

Among the UW - Madison visitors was Professor Frank Pfefferkorn, a graduate of Purdue University doing cutting-edge research in ceramic material manufacturing techniques. Directing UW - Madison's Laser-Assisted Multi-Scale Manufacturing Laboratory, Professor Pfefferkorn has published numerous papers describing work relating to the use of lasers for ceramic machining. Professor Pfefferkorn discussed his work in depth and examined several engine components that could benefit from his research efforts.  

University of Wisconsin- Madison faculty stop for a picture following a close examination of Turbine Technologies' MiniLab Gas Turbine Power System during their visit to discuss research and technology transfer opportunities 

Mr. Kutrieb remarked, "Turbine Technologies is well versed in high-temperature, precision vacuum investment casting of conventional stainless steels and Super Alloys. Our efforts in engine optimization have brought us within the practical temperature limits of these materials. For this reason, we've become particularly interested in ceramics and are committing substantial resources to determining effective ways of utilizing these materials to allow higher gas turbine operating temperatures and the efficiencies those operating realms afford. Professor Pfefferkorn's work is extremely exciting and indicative of the direction we wish to move."

Professor Patrick Farrell, Director of the Engine Research Center at the UW - Madison described the scope of his work relating to engine combustion and current sensor technology used to measure those processes. The Engine Research Center, a U.S. Army Center of Excellence, is a major research and educational institution investigating the fundamentals and applications of internal combustion engines. Turbine Technologies' engineers, working under a recently awarded U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command Research and Development contract focusing on small gas turbine performance, were particularly interested in Professor Farrell's ideas and work relating to real-time measurement of internal engine operating parameters.

Also present were Professor Gregory Nellis, Ph.D. Mechanical Engineering - Massachusetts Institute of Technology, working on gas bearing supported turbomachinery, and Professor Riccardo Bonazza, Ph.D. Aeronautics - California Institute of Technology, currently doing research on shock wave suppression. Dean Lawrence Casper and Chancellor's Office Director Allen Dines further met with company representatives to promote the University's overall research capabilities and to offer such services to Turbine Technologies in its work of advancing small gas turbine performance.



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