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Alfred University teams with LIFT on hypersonic materials project


US Department of Defense project partners with AU for next generation military capabilities

ALFRED, NY – LIFT, the Detroit-based Department of Defense manufacturing innovation institute, announces the launch of a materials characterization and testing project, led by Alfred University, aimed at accelerating the development of materials for hypersonic systems.

A world-class leader in ceramic, ceramic matrix composite (CMC), and glass technologies, Alfred University and its New York State College of Ceramics is supporting physical validation of LIFT’s Integrated Computational Materials Engineering (ICME) workflow. More specifically, the Alfred University team is characterizing material properties of hypersonic-relevant ceramics produced by additive manufacturing techniques in comparison to traditional manufacturing. As material structure and properties can change as a function of temperature and atmosphere, ceramics are being tested in a variety of environments to support hypersonic modeling and testing.

The Center of Excellence (COE) for Materials Informatics at the University at Buffalo will collaborate with Alfred University on the LIFT project. LIFT, operated by the American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute, is a public-private partnership between the U.S. Department of Defense, industry, and academia, committed to the development and deployment of advanced manufacturing technologies, and implementing talent development initiatives to better prepare the workforce today and in the future. LIFT is funded in part by the Department of Defense with management through the Office of Naval Research.

“We could not be more pleased to be collaborating with LIFT on this important research vital to our national defense,” said Gabrielle Gaustad ’04, dean of the Inamori School of Engineering at Alfred University.

“The work of Alfred University will help move the needle in the areas of material design, manufacture, and test for monolithic ceramics ideally suited for high-performance in extreme environments,” said Noel Mack, chief technology officer, LIFT.

Operating at speeds of Mach 5 or higher, hypersonic and counter-hypersonic vehicles are among the Department of Defense’s top priorities, as well as the development of a safe and secure domestic supply base. This project, along with the ongoing work being led by LIFT through the Department of Defense’s Hypersonics Challenge, are a part of the institute’s broader hypersonic materials research portfolio.

The announcement of the LIFT-Alfred University partnership comes on the heels of Alfred University being awarded a federal contract to support a project with the U.S. Army to conduct research in the forming and characterization of ultra-high temperature ceramic (UHTC) materials. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-NY, announced that project during a visit to campus in August. Initial funding of $2.7 million will support joint research between Alfred University and DEVCOM (U.S. Army Capabilities Development Command), Army Research Laboratory (ARL).

Much of the research on the LIFT project and the joint research project with the ARL will be conducted in the Center for High Temperature Characterization (CHTC) at Alfred University. The CHTC—which was completed in 2014 with $4 million in state funding – houses much of the equipment needed to investigate the physical, microstructural, and chemical changes of hypersonic materials at various temperatures and under controlled atmospheres. The Center played a significant role in Alfred University receiving the federal funding to partner with the ARL.

The opportunity was pursued by Alfred University’s Center for Advanced Ceramic Technology (CACT), which is funded annually by Empire State Development’s Division of Science, Technology and Innovation (NYSTAR). The University at Buffalo’s Center of Excellence for Materials Informatics is a sister organization to the CACT also funded through NYSTAR. Collaboration among Centers for Advanced Technology (CATs) and Centers of Excellence (COEs) is a strategic goal of the CACT.

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