In 2021 QDSA were pleased to offer HDR Grants to three successful recipients. Our grants are available at a rate of one per member university annually. As we begin 2022, we are looking forward to accepting a new round of submissions and recognising the efforts of talented and hardworking researchers across Queensland.
This article looks at the successful 2021 submission of Lachlan Noller, who represents member university, the University of Southern Queensland, and aims to advance the capabilities of their state-of-the-art hypersonic wind tunnel facility.
Lachlan Noller – University of Southern Queensland
Project: Increased Capability and Advancement of TUSQ Hypersonic Wind Tunnel
Lachlan and his team are spearheading a project focused on expanding the current hypersonic wind tunnel capabilities located at USQ. The improvements to hardware that they are developing will allow ground-based testing of larger, correctly scaled scramjet inlets compared with what can currently be tested.
Let’s take a look at how Lachlan and his team plan to achieve this and the benefits that QDSA HDR Grant funding will offer their project.
The USQ Hypersonics Group
According to Lachlan, The USQ Hypersonics Group, as the name suggests, specialises in anything that moves fast. The primary research driver of the group revolves around the TUSQ facility, the longest duration hypersonic wind tunnel in Australia.
More recently, the group has also undertaken Airborne observation missions, most notably observing the Hayabusa2 during re-entry acquiring spectral measurements of the capsule. This was the first time a mission of its kind had been conducted without NASA affiliation.
Additionally, the group is working closely with Rocket Technologies International (RTI) to develop static rocket testing sites and manufacturing facilities.
In addition to Lachlan, the team includes:
- Prof. David Buttsworth: Nozzle and ancillary component design and analysis advisory.
- Dr Fabian Zander: Nozzle design and CFD assistance.
- Mr Alister Webb: Ancillary component design and analysis assistance.
Recent experiments have demonstrated the capabilities of the hypersonic wind tunnel at the University of Southern Queensland (TUSQ) for scramjet start-ability testing on a representative engine inlet flow path and a nozzle exit diameter of 220mm. The development of new flow conditions and hardware design of the existing wind tunnel infrastructure by Lachlan and his team will enable a dramatically increased testing ability.
According to Lachlan, the best outcome for the project would be to specify a complete wind tunnel nozzle design along with supporting components required for operation. It will include documentation of all analysis and proposed final plans produced illustrating the potential extended capability of the facility. It is hoped that this will attract the interest of external parties to fund the manufacture, installation and commissioning of the proposed components.
The team has collaborated extensively with DSTG Brisbane to ensure that the new wind tunnel test conditions meet their specific testing requirements for large-scale models.
Current capabilities: Engine inlet flow path and nozzle exit diameter of 220mm.
After project completion: Physical nozzle exit diameter of 330mm and testing condition of Mach 7 with a unit Reynolds number range of 1.49 x 106 / m to 1.84 x 107 / m with corresponding altitudes of 18 to 33 km.
The upgrade to a larger core flow diameter will result in long-duration hypersonic flows that allow ground-based testing of larger, correctly scaled scramjet inlets.
The Hypersonic Wind Tunnel
Here are some images of the hardware involved in the project to illustrate the scale and scope of Lachlan’s efforts:
The Effect of QDSA HDR Grant Funding
Lachlan is very grateful for the opportunities QDSA HDR Grant funding has afforded his project. He believes that the funding ensures his projects success and could result in a broad range of benefits to the industry.
“The QDSA grant has opened additional avenues for the USQ Hypersonics Group to directly collaborate with DSTG Brisbane. Through this project, the TUSQ facility will be better equipped to fulfil the testing requirements of large-scale models, which are of interest to DSTG’s current research goals, also opening the potential for a wide variety of future collaborative projects between the groups,” Lachlan says.
The TUSQ wind tunnel is currently the only facility in Australia providing scramjet inlet operability testing and is suited for fundamental research work on scramjet inlets. However, according to Lachlan, a significant extension to such capabilities can be established through his project. This will allow large-scale scramjets geometries to be analysed and validate prototype flight systems before flight testing.
Lachlan’s PhD research has demonstrated TUSQ suitability for testing a subscale scramjet inlet with a realistic flow path. Still, a far wider range of testing can be performed with the added capability developed through this project.
With a focus on “anything that moves fast”, we will be watching Lachlan’s project with high expectations of a rapid rise to fame! QDSA is frequently surprised and delighted by the scope of talent we have right here on our doorstep, and we are proud to support and recognise it.
Congratulations to Lachlan Noller and the TUSQ Hypersonics Group on their achievements, and we look forward to seeing the final results materialise.
Learn more about QDSA HDR Capability Grants here.
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The Queensland Defence Science Alliance (QDSA) is a university-led initiative to grow and connect an agile Defence innovation ecosystem, leveraging Queensland’s strengths, to deliver trusted solutions to meet Defence requirements.