AUSTIN, Texas—The University of Texas at Austin’s Institute for Advanced Technology (IAT) has received a contract worth up to $10 million over five years from the U.S. Navy to undertake research and development on electromagnetic systems.
The funding is part of a $100 million research package in the Navy’s 2004 budget to develop electromagnetic (EM) technology to launch projectiles that will travel farther and faster than systems now deployed by the Navy.
Under the Navy contract, the IAT will conduct research to evaluate the durability of components within the rail gun launcher. Researchers also will study heating effects within the launcher components caused by repetitive operation and by transient electromagnetic effects, and evaluate how best to cool critical components.
“We’ll bring the expertise of the IAT and the university to bear to help the Navy, in addition to work that we are undertaking for the U.S. Army and the Marines,” said Dr. Ian McNab, director of the Electromagnetic Systems Division and a senior research scientist at the IAT. “Our task is to provide research and development support to help them with this development.”
The IAT, headed by director Dr. Harry Fair, has been working on hypervelocity physics, electrodynamics, pulsed power and related technologies for about 13 years with the U.S. Army. The Navy has been tracking the progress of the research and is interested in integrating the technology on a coming generation of all-electric warships.
“Over the past two or three years the Navy has become very interested in the technology we’ve been developing for electric systems,” Dr. McNab said.
The Navy is looking to develop a long-range surface fire and transport (NSFS) and strike system. It is investigating ways the systems could be used in combat.
The rail launcher consists of two parallel conductors bridged by an electrically conductive, sliding armature. The launcher is fired when a large electric pulse is introduced at the breech end of one rail, flows down the rail, across the armature and back up the other rail to the breech. That creates a magnetic field, which interacts with the current in the armature to produce a force that accelerates the armature and the launch package.
The forces generated can launch projectiles at velocities substantially faster than the speed of sound, so that a distance of 250 nautical miles could be covered in six minutes.
For more information contact: Tim Green, 512-232-6391.