Researchers and engineers at ERG are problem solvers. A number of prototypes and test apparatus have been developed by JHU/ERG utilizing our science first approach to engineering. If you are interesting in partnering with us to help solve highly technical challenges in the areas of energetics, materials, hypersonics and propulsion then contact us.

Non-Energetic Humanitarian De-armer

Engineers at ERG sought to contribute expertise to the international humanitarian mine action community by developing a non-energetic means to de-arm unexploded ordnance (UXO). Humanitarian mine action, or clearance, enables the return of displaced people and promotes economic recovery in post conflict areas through the environmentally responsible removal of explosives, propellants and hazardous energetic materials.

One challenge for the current state of the art methods for UXO de-arming is the use of energetic charges to produce the kinetic energy necessary to safely destroy the fuze without setting off the munition. Unfortunately in many cases it is not possible to bring these energetic charges into effected regions of the world.

CAD assembly of the kinetic de-armer

ERG’s solution is to harness potential energy stored in extremely high rate springs. The device was designed to be easily manufactured with commonly available materials and equipment – even in low economically developed nations. The one component which is necessary to provide from a centralized source are the springs themselves.

The prototype was manufactured by the Whiting School of Engineering (WSE) machine shop and tested against an inert motar.

Prototype kinetic de-armer

Compact Rapid Assessment of Fuel Thermal Integrity (CRAFTI)

The JANNAF Liquid Propulsion Subcommittee Hydrocarbon Fuels Panel identified a need for a new test method that is capable of thermally stressing RP-1 and RP-2 fuels under relevant rocket-like conditions. After a survey of existing facilities and test methods a new experiment was developed to produce high heat flux environments, for high Reynolds number flow, at high pressures; while minimizing the quantity of fuel necessary for testing, reducing required operator skill and expertise, and enabling a high rate of testing for different fuel candidates.

Since the development of the prototype experiment at ERG’s Advanced Engine & Rocket (AERo) Fuels Laboratory in 2012, CRAFTI has performed 100s of tests, tested over 40 different candidate fuels, tested additively manufactured rocket cooling channels, and is currently being applied to evaluate hypersonic fuels. In 2019 the 2nd CRAFTI was delivered to AFRL at Edwards Air Force Base.

Currently the AERo Fuels Laboratory researchers are refining the CRAFTI further and will deliver the 3rd prototype to AFRL at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base to commence with round-robin testing.

CRAFTI also served as a model to develop a cryogenic fuel test capability, the cryo-CRAFTI, which is capable of generating precisely controlled surrogate liquefied natural gas (LNG) and methane fuels and performing thermal stability and heat transfer testing at rocket conditions.

Green Monopropellant Materials Compatibility Test

The replacement of hydrazine propellant by a safer alternative has been under development for several decades. A number of candidate monopropellant formulations exist and have successfully flown demonstration missions on orbit. Many of the challenges associated with these propellants were related to catalyst and thruster development. Now that the reality of safer monopropellant fuels is here, it becomes necessary to focus on building datasets necessary to help spacecraft and propulsion system designers utilize these new fuels.

One area where green monopropellants lack compared to hydrazine and its derivatives is the robust databases of materials compatibility information that has been collected over hydrazine’s long history. One of the challenges associated with collecting this information for green monopropellants is the relatively unknown nature of compatible materials from which to develop a test method. Further complicating matters is the NASA standard for testing materials compatibility includes materials in it’s construction known to be incompatible with promising monopropellant candidates.

In collaboration with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), ERG at the AERo Fuels Laboratory developed, produced, and delivered a highly inert and sensitive materials compatibility tester that was necessary to the collection of this critical dataset.