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Northrop Grumman Donates Hypersonic Tunnel to Purdue

Nov. 30, 2020
The 150' tunnel is filled with air at high pressure and temperature and a shock wave sends the air through the tunnel at high speeds for testing.

Research helps expand knowledge and Purdue University’s research capabilities have been extended considerably thanks to the donation of a Hypersonic Pulse (HYPULSE) shock tunnel by Northrop Grumman Corp. The tunnel is filled with air at high pressure and temperature and a shock wave sends the air through the tunnel at high speeds for testing. The 150-ft.-long tunnel (see figure) is being disassembled and moved from Northrop Grumman’s facility in Ronkonkoma, NY to the Purdue University research facilities in West Lafayette, IN. Once it is installed, Purdue will be only the second university in the United States with such hypersonic test capability.

According to Theresa Mayer, executive vice-president for research and partnerships, the school’s work in flow physics and the tunnel will support a wide range of hypersonic research: “Purdue is continuing to invest in infrastructure to support hypersonic research and education, and will open the HYPULSE tunnel for collaboration with external organizations.” Mayer added: “This will allow researchers from across academia, industry and the government to access the unique test conditions enabled by HYPULSE for their most demanding aerothermodynamic experiments.”

The HYPULSE tunnel allows flight simulations ranging from Mach 5 to Mach 40, at many times the speeds of conventional aircraft, with the collection of critical research data at those speeds. Northrop Grumman’s director of Propulsion Systems and Controls, John Hayes, views the sharing of the equipment as a way of preparing the next research generation: “At Northrop Grumman we are committed to increasing STEM educational opportunities that engage, excite, and educate students,” he said. Hayes added: “The HYPULSE tunnel will help students from across the country conduct in-depth research into the world of hypersonic applications.” The HYPULSE tunnel has already been used by several customers of notoriety, including NASA and the U. S. Air Force.  

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