Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Engineering Students’ Airplane Research Is Crystal Clear

25.06.2008
An engineering team at Rowan University has created ice clouds in an ice cloud chamber as a way to work toward preventing some airplane crashes.

Forget delays, lines and ticket costs — for many people, flying isn’t just an aggravation, it’s an outright phobia.

Thanks to research conducted by an engineering professor and College of Engineering students at Rowan University (Glassboro, N.J.), those airplane passengers may be a little less fearful in the future.

The Rowan team has been focusing on ice clouds and crystals, which can contribute to plane crashes. Some crashes occur because ice crystals collect on a plane’s wings as it passes through a cloud, causing the shape of the wing to change, reducing the lift force needed for flying.

Though these clouds pose a serious threat to airplanes, there is no way to determine which clouds are hazardous to fly through. Enter Rowan engineers.

The team has re-created ice clouds in an ice cloud chamber on a small scale, successfully forming ice crystals with the same characteristics of those in nature. Using these lab-created crystals, they can project a laser beam through the chamber, measuring its change in polarization, which is dependent on the size, shape and distribution of ice crystals in the cloud. The polarization state of light is invisible to the naked eye, but measurable using sensitive lenses and photodetectors. Eventually, this process could enable a pilot to use low-power lasers to detect the crystals in time to allow the plane to avoid the crystal-bearing clouds.

“No one has previously done what we are doing in terms of this lab scale and the ability to vary as many elements,” said Todd Nilsen, a 20-year-old (spring semester 2008) junior from Brick studying mechanical engineering and a member of the team that worked on the project.

Other members of the team during the past year were:

• Metin Ahiskali, an electrical and computer engineering senior from Randolph
• Matthew Costill, 23, of Mantua, a senior chemical engineering major
• Anthony LaBarck, 21, of Vernon, a senior mechanical engineering major
• Joseph Urcinas, 20, of Flemington, a junior mechanical engineering major
• Shawn Sacks, a civil engineering junior from West Berlin
• Rane Pierson, an electrical and computer engineering senior from Sparta
• Dr. Paris VonLockette, advisor for the project and associate professor of mechanical engineering

During the course of two semesters, the team constructed an insulated Plexiglas unit—the ice cloud chamber—to house the ice crystals they would create using liquid nitrogen and water, chilling the chamber to a literally freezing -40 degrees Celsius. The entire system is computer-controlled. A microscope attached to the unit allowed the team to magnify the 40-micron crystals, which are roughly as wide as a human hair, and then take pictures.

After producing the ice cloud in the chamber, a laser beam is directed into the unit. The light that bounces back from the ice crystals, called backscattered light, passes into a detector. The data that are collected from this process can be used to determine which clouds contain ice crystals detrimental to airplane flight.

Thus far, the team has successfully re-created the ice crystals that have characteristics that are needed for further research. This is a significant step toward providing a method to detect the specific crystals in the path of aircrafts. The ability to re-create ice crystals that have the same characteristics as those found in nature, on such a small scale, enables further research by other companies with little financial burden.

The team’s research was sponsored by a $5,000 grant from R.L. Associates, Inc., a research and development company specializing in optical technology located in Chester, Pa.

Patricia Quigley | newswise
Further information:
http://www.rowan.edu

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht Researchers devise microreactor to study formation of methane hydrate
23.08.2017 | NYU Tandon School of Engineering

nachricht Meter-sized single-crystal graphene growth becomes possible
22.08.2017 | Science China Press

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

What the world's tiniest 'monster truck' reveals

23.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Treating arthritis with algae

23.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Witnessing turbulent motion in the atmosphere of a distant star

23.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>