$15M to Research Turbine Lifespan Predictive Models
Small business qualifier Rotordynamics-Seal Research in Loomis, CA received a $15 million indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity Phase III Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) contract for Topic N03-027, entitled “Useful Life Remaining Models for Turbine Engine Hot Section Components.” Work will be performed in Loomis, CA, and is expected to be complete in May 2009. This contract was competitively procured via a request for proposals; 14 proposals were received by the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Lakehurst, NJ (N68335-07-D-0023)
Turbines are packaged and used in a number of ways on aircraft, ships, land vehicles, and even power generation plants; but they’re essentially jet engines. The “hot section” is often the first to wear out, which exerts a strong influence on a turbine engine’s total life span because replacing it may not be economically sensible. RSR informed DID that this SBIR project has evolved to a multidisciplinary software/analysis model, however, using RAPPID ™ software for predicting transient vibration in the entire turbine engine. These transient vibrations can lead to cracks, and cracks can cause big problems. The thing is, trying to create a 3-D model of this type for the whole engine goes beyond reasonable computing capacity limits at present. The key, therefore, is a model that can use varying fidelity simulation to target intensive computing resources only on the parts likely to matter.
It certainly is an innovative approach, and one that’s relevant to a variety of industries and turbine applications. A Phase III SBIR award generally means that their approach is considered to be almost ready for commercialization, and some spinouts from Phases I & II have already been commercialized. This grant aims to get the entire system to that stage. For our many readers outside the USA, however, RSR’s Joe Pelletti cautions that the entire system’s ITAR status as a commercial vs. military-designated item remains something of an open question once all modules are combined together. Countries like Canada, Australia, and Britain who have preferential ITAR access may have an easier time, but export lawyer Mike Deal writes us to note that treaties like the Wassenaar Arrangement (ECCN 9A001 and/or 9A003, and possibly others) may also apply.