Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Engineering Students’ Airplane Research Is Crystal Clear

Date:
June 26, 2008
Source:
Rowan University
Summary:
Forget delays, lines and ticket costs -- for many people, flying isn't just an aggravation, it's an outright phobia. New research may make airplane passengers a little less fearful in the future. Young researchers have been focusing on ice clouds and crystals, which can contribute to plane crashes. Some crashes occur because ice crystals collect on a plane's wings as it passes through a cloud, causing the shape of the wing to change, reducing the lift force needed for flying.

Forget delays, lines and ticket costs — for many people, flying isn’t just an aggravation, it’s an outright phobia.

Related Articles


Thanks to research conducted by an engineering professor and College of Engineering students at Rowan University (Glassboro, N.J.), those airplane passengers may be a little less fearful in the future.

The Rowan team has been focusing on ice clouds and crystals, which can contribute to plane crashes. Some crashes occur because ice crystals collect on a plane’s wings as it passes through a cloud, causing the shape of the wing to change, reducing the lift force needed for flying.

Though these clouds pose a serious threat to airplanes, there is no way to determine which clouds are hazardous to fly through. Enter Rowan engineers.

The team has re-created ice clouds in an ice cloud chamber on a small scale, successfully forming ice crystals with the same characteristics of those in nature. Using these lab-created crystals, they can project a laser beam through the chamber, measuring its change in polarization, which is dependent on the size, shape and distribution of ice crystals in the cloud. The polarization state of light is invisible to the naked eye, but measurable using sensitive lenses and photodetectors. Eventually, this process could enable a pilot to use low-power lasers to detect the crystals in time to allow the plane to avoid the crystal-bearing clouds.

“No one has previously done what we are doing in terms of this lab scale and the ability to vary as many elements,” said Todd Nilsen, a 20-year-old (spring semester 2008) junior from Brick studying mechanical engineering and a member of the team that worked on the project.

During the course of two semesters, the team constructed an insulated Plexiglas unit—the ice cloud chamber—to house the ice crystals they would create using liquid nitrogen and water, chilling the chamber to a literally freezing -40 degrees Celsius. The entire system is computer-controlled. A microscope attached to the unit allowed the team to magnify the 40-micron crystals, which are roughly as wide as a human hair, and then take pictures.

After producing the ice cloud in the chamber, a laser beam is directed into the unit. The light that bounces back from the ice crystals, called backscattered light, passes into a detector. The data that are collected from this process can be used to determine which clouds contain ice crystals detrimental to airplane flight.

Thus far, the team has successfully re-created the ice crystals that have characteristics that are needed for further research. This is a significant step toward providing a method to detect the specific crystals in the path of aircrafts. The ability to re-create ice crystals that have the same characteristics as those found in nature, on such a small scale, enables further research by other companies with little financial burden.

The team’s research was sponsored by a $5,000 grant from R.L. Associates, Inc., a research and development company specializing in optical technology located in Chester, Pa.

Other members of the team during the past year were:

  • Metin Ahiskali, an electrical and computer engineering senior from Randolph
  • Matthew Costill, 23, of Mantua, a senior chemical engineering major
  • Anthony LaBarck, 21, of Vernon, a senior mechanical engineering major
  • Joseph Urcinas, 20, of Flemington, a junior mechanical engineering major
  • Shawn Sacks, a civil engineering junior from West Berlin
  • Rane Pierson, an electrical and computer engineering senior from Sparta
  • Dr. Paris VonLockette, advisor for the project and associate professor of mechanical engineering

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Rowan University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Rowan University. "Engineering Students’ Airplane Research Is Crystal Clear." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 June 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080624151542.htm>.
Rowan University. (2008, June 26). Engineering Students’ Airplane Research Is Crystal Clear. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080624151542.htm
Rowan University. "Engineering Students’ Airplane Research Is Crystal Clear." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080624151542.htm (accessed December 18, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
3D Printed Cookies Just in Time for Christmas

3D Printed Cookies Just in Time for Christmas

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) A tech company in Spain have combined technology with cuisine to develop the 'Foodini', a 3D printer designed to print the perfect cookie for Santa. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ford Expands Air Bag Recall Nationwide

Ford Expands Air Bag Recall Nationwide

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) The automaker added 447,000 vehicles to its recall list, bringing the total to more than 502,000. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Sony Hopes To Make Any Glasses 'Smart'

How Sony Hopes To Make Any Glasses 'Smart'

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Sony's glasses module attaches to the temples of various eye- and sunglasses to add a display and wireless connectivity. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins