Rensselaer Professor Michael Amitay To Conduct Research That Will Assist in the Design of Ultra-efficient Aircraft

Rensselaer Professor Michael Amitay has been awarded $800,000 from the Department of Defense as part of the Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP) to engage in research to advance the study of unsteady aerodynamics.

“This will enable us to simulate a flight of an airplane in our wind tunnel with pitch, roll, and yaw maneuvers, and, at the same time, measure the unsteady forces and moments,” said Principal Investigator Dr. Michael Amitay, director of The Center for Flow Physics and Control (CeFPaC) at Rensselaer. “This is a unique system that will significantly enhance our research capabilities and propel new research in unsteady aerodynamics to design more efficient airplanes. The system will enable us to quantify the performance of airplanes during various maneuvers, which will be used to develop advance techniques to improve their performance.”

As part of DURIP award, Rensselaer was awarded laser-based measurement equipment that will enable Dr. Amitay and his team of researchers to measure unsteady 3D flow fields, the first combined system of its sort in U.S. academia.   

The new computer controlled Dynamic Model Positioning system will be incorporated into the existing CeFPaC wind tunnel facility in Watervliet, New York, and will enable researchers to impose any desired maneuver of the model in the wind tunnel. The system will be augmented with high-speed cameras and microlens arrays that will enhance the capabilities to perform measurements of 3D scaled models undergoing static and dynamic motions, including combinations of pitch, roll, and yaw. This state-of-the-art system will provide for the fundamental research of aerodynamic performance enhancement of complex configurations.

“Dr. Amitay’s work is connecting fundamental understanding of fluid mechanics to modern applications in aerospace engineering. This new grant will expand the experimental capabilities of our Center for Flow Physics and Control in a new dimension,” said Shekhar Garde, Dean of the School of Engineering at Rensselaer.

DURIP is designed to improve the capabilities of accredited United States institutions of higher education to conduct research and to educate scientists and engineers in areas important to national defense, by providing funds for the acquisition of research equipment or instrumentation.

Dr. Amitay is an internationally recognized expert in fluid dynamics and flow control, the James L. Decker ’45 Endowed Chair in Aerospace Engineering, and founding director of CeFPaC, which was established in 2012. The center’s two main thrusts are the aerodynamics of aerial, ground, and underwater vehicles, and wind energy, including smart wind turbine blades. The center’s facilities include two water tunnels and three wind tunnels.