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Daniel Felix Ritchie School of Engineering & Computer Science Applied Research & Technology Institute

Applied Research & Technology

Defense Research Expertise

Areas of research expertise include

  • Chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats, detection and cleanup, on both a national and local level
  • Ultrasonics
  • High-speed impact and explosives testing
  • Chemical lasers (e.g. weapons development)
  • Energy and environmental studies
  • Educational efficacy evaluation
  • High velocity impact evaluation of space craft shielding concepts

Past Research Includes:

Advanced Iodine Lasers

A high energy laser has been demonstrated using the reaction of HN3 with H atoms and HI. This laser was based on the work of Coombe and Hunter at DU in the early 1990's. This method requires a combustor to produce the hydrogen atoms. We are currently investigating an alternative technology using the auto decomposition of NCl3 as a source of the energy carrier NCl(a). This effort follows a Multi-University Research Initiative headed by DU which established the fundamental kinetic rates for this system. Such a device would be over twice as efficient as other known high energy lasers.

Sponsors: Department of Defense Joint Technology Office

Close Coupling of Excited Oxygen With Iodine Injection in Coil Lasers

The YAL-1A, popularly known as the Airborne Laser (ABL), is a keystone element of the boost phase kill component of the Missile Defense Agency's layered defense system. It is designed to protect troops, friendly forces and allied countries as well as the United States against the threat of ballistic missile attacks by enemy forces. Housed in a highly modified Boeing 747-400F aircraft, it uses a chemical oxygen iodine laser to direct lethal laser energy against the thrusting missile body to destroy the missile in the boost phase of flight. When destroyed in the boost phase, the missile warhead falls back onto the launching country's territory. At the core of the ABL system is the chemical oxygen iodine laser which produces laser energy from a chemical fuel consisting of chlorine gas and basic hydrogen peroxide. The chemical laser and its fuel system is the heaviest element of the ABL system. Increasing the efficiency of the chemical laser will result in a significant improvement in the lethal range and magazine of the ABL. DRI, under a subcontract with Directed Energy Solutions, is developing ways to reduce the distance between the chemical generator of excited oxygen and increase the laser efficiency. At DU, we are modeling the iodine injection process in the supersonic nozzle using FLUENT. Dr. Lengsford of the Engineering Department is heading up this effort. A graduate student (Matt Opgenorth) is performing the computational fluid mechanics calculations. This work has resulted in significant increases in mixing performance. Improved mixing will further increase the laser efficiency. This work will also have the potential for advancement of many far-reaching applications such as mining, chemical and biological decontamination, air sterilization, and medicine.

Sponsors: Missile Defense Agency

High Pressure Singlet Delta Generator

Another way to increase the efficiency of a chemical oxygen iodine laser is to increase the operating pressure of the laser. At DU we are looking at methods of increasing the oxygen pressure in the chemical laser and its impact on laser performance. This also involves computational fluid mechanics calculations. A graduate student (Leonard Trujillo) is assisting in this effort.

Sponsors: Department of Defense Joint Technology Office