Aerospace Lab Investigates If Going Green Will Fly

Article ID: 552863

Released: 29-May-2009 1:00 PM EDT

Source Newsroom: Ryerson University

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  • Credit: Ryerson University

    The Facility for Research on Aerospace Materials and Engineered Structures (FRAMES lab)at Ryerson University, state-of-the-art and unique among Canadian universities.

Newswise — According to the David Suzuki Foundation, carbon dioxide emissions from international aviation have increased 83 per cent during the last two decades. With the green movement taking off, the air travel industry is under pressure to come up with eco-friendly solutions. Ryerson University researchers have answered the call and they have just the laboratory to help the aviation industry straighten up and fly right.

Zouheir Fawaz, Professor in Ryerson's Department of Aerospace Engineering (AE) and AE Chair Kamran Behdinan are the principal investigators at Ryerson's Facility for Research on Aerospace Materials and Engineered Structures (FRAMES). Built with funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Ontario Innovation Trust, along with a sizeable infrastructure investment from Ryerson, this state-of-the-art lab is unique among Canadian universities. Complete with a full range of mechanical testing equipment for aerospace materials and structures, this 450 square metre, double-height, environmentally-controlled lab also houses a leading-edge "clean room," completely free of contaminants making it ideal for testing reactions and preparing test specimens.

The clean room is key to FRAMES' current research which sees Ryerson researchers working together with research partners across Canada and India on a $5 million project studying the compatibility of environmentally-conscious jet fuels with aircraft gas-turbine engines. Through a science and technology partnership with the Canadian government, India will supply the algae-based biofuels. For their part, Drs. Fawaz and Behdinan will be soaking engine and other jet components in the various potential alternative fuel samples and subjecting them to a battery of tests to see the effect the fuels will have on the machinery once it is pumping through the airplane's inner workings. A separate multi-partner FRAMES project, worth close to $700,000, involves the testing of composite aircraft materials at high temperatures. Currently, there are very few aircraft structures built entirely of composite materials " Bombardier Aerospace's Learjet 85 is one example. Other planes may contain composite materials in some areas, such as their wings, tail or fuselage. To advance the green agenda, airlines are anxious to move more aircraft construction to composite materials. To this end, Drs. Fawaz and Behdinan and their research partners are studying how well these high-tech materials can withstand service under the high temperatures (up to 260°C) experienced in an aircraft engine or nearby parts. Although they are two separate projects, they share a common focus: the efficacy, safety and environmental impact of advanced aerospace materials and fuel. "Green aviation is a hot topic right now," says Dr. Fawaz. "If biofuels can replace fossil fuels, greenhouse-gas emissions will be reduced. Similarly, composite materials will lead to stronger and lighter airplanes, which in turn, will be more fuel-efficient and better for the environment."

FRAMES recently joined the nation-wide Green Aviation Research and Development Network (GARDN). This new network of centres of excellence brings together industry, university and government partners to lower noise and emissions pollution produced by the aerospace industry, and ultimately to reduce its ecological footprint.

FRAMES' alternative fuels project is supported by International Science and Technology Partnerships (ISTP) Canada and aircraft engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney Canada (PWC). The composite aircraft materials research partnership is funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Consortium de Recherche et Innovation Aerospatial Quebec (CRIAQ) and PWC.

For a full technical description of the Ryerson FRAMES lab, please visit http://www.ryerson.ca/aerospace/research/.


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