Archives—July 2017

Paul van Susante on Space Mining for Rocket Fuel

Paul van Susante
Paul van Susante

Sending humans to Mars involves deep space missions that could last months, but shipping material there is costly; the price of transporting 1kg on Earth increases by a factor of 100 on a Martian mission. If the ultimate goal is to establish a long-term base on Mars, we’ll need make use of materials found on humanity’s greatest ever voyage.

Nasa has a target to send humans to Mars by the 2030s. Since 2012, the space agency has dedicated a branch of its research to what it calls In Situ Resource Utilisation (ISRU), with researchers working to find the best ways to produce one of the most crucial resources for space travel – rocket fuel.

Paul van Susante, senior lecturer in engineering at Michigan Tech University, has studied how to mine these resources on our neighbouring planet.

Space mining, on any target or destination such as asteroids, moon or Mars, provides leverage.Paul van Susante

Read more at Wired (UK), by Abigail Beall.


Short Course on Diesel Engines July 12-14, 2017

“Fundamentals of Diesel Engines”—MEEM 5202 will be offered next week Wednesday through Friday as a one credit short course.

Course includes extensive laboratory components with a format that mixes traditional lecture and group discussion with hands-on experiments conducted in powertrain test-cells and through driving vehicles on the road. The course will be available to all Michigan Tech faculty/staff, graduate students, and undergraduate seniors.

Course description is included below.

“Fundamentals of Diesel Engines”—MEEM 5202 is a combination of lecture and hands-on activities. Options for transportation and lunch. Content; fundamentals of operation, performance metrics, thermochemistry, combustion, fuel injection and spray, air systems and turbocharging, EGR, energy balance, heat transfer, diesel engine simulation and advanced concepts and trends in diesel engines.

These courses are a great option for anyone looking to increase their understanding of vehicle systems, engines, or for students needing additional credits. The course will be delivered from the Michigan Tech Advanced Power Systems Research Center located near the Houghton County Airport. The course will be 2.5 days in duration, starting at 1 p.m. Wednesday, ending at 5 p.m. Friday of that same week. Transportation to and from campus may be provided each day. Lunch will be provided on Thursday and Friday.

Registration is now open through banweb.

Fundamentals of Diesel Engines, 7/12 through 7/14 CRN 52378.

There are no pre-requisites, but familiarity with thermodynamics and/or IC engine cycles will be helpful.

Contact Chris Morgan cjmorgan@mtu.edu for further details.

By MEEM, APS Labs.


NASA Funding for Greg Odegard

Greg Odegard
Greg Odegard

Greg Odegard (MEEM) is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $1,000,000 research and development grant from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Ravi Pandey (Physics), Julia King (ChE) and Trisha Sain (MEEM) are Co-Pis on the project titled “Institute for Ultra-Strong Composites by Computational Design (US-COMP).”

This is the first year of a five-year project potential totaling $14,999,995.

Air and Space Smithsonian August 2017Strong Stuff

These students are designing materials tough enough to land on another planet.

The spacecraft that will one day land humans on Mars will be made of a material that has not yet been invented. Ditto for the rocket that sends them there. But at the end of a $15 million, five-year NASA project set to begin next month, an advanced, high-performance composite will be invented, and it may be the very material used to build those spacecraft. The people inventing it are Ph.D. candidates and other students at 11 universities, all working together.

The project, called the Institute for Ultra-Strong Composites by Computational Design (US-COMP), is led by Michigan Technological University professor Greg Odegard, who assembled the 11-university team of experts in computational mechanics and materials science. The problem NASA has set for them to solve: Use carbon nanotubes to create a composite that is lighter and stronger than any material used in load-bearing structures today. Odegard says high-powered computers at his university and others are the key to success.

Read more at Air & Space Smithsonian, by Linda Shiner.