New concept devised by IISc may reduce aeroplane making cost

New concept devised by IISc may reduce aeroplane making cost

Aeroplanes and space shuttles are among the most complex machines ever made by man. However, the cost that goes into developing them is immense.

Now, scientists from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) have devised a concept in the field of hypersonics that may reduce the cost of making such machines. 

Hypersonics relates to the study of objects moving at speeds five times that of sound. Tests and experiments on aeroplanes are usually carried out at such speeds.

At a time when space exploration and commercialised space travel have become the byword, hypersonics research has become an important field. 

During tests, measuring the heat transfer rates from the atmosphere to the machines, are usually done at hypersonic speeds.

 This is usually done using thin metal films made of platinum or nickel that are very costly. Besides, very quick measurement also needs to be made using these thin films since hypersonic speeds are achieved for a very short duration experiments.

Prof K P J Reddy from the Laboratory for Hypersonic and Shock Wave Research at IISc, who developed the concept, explained some problems involved while carrying out experiments.

He said that each thin film of platinum and nickel costs around 700 Euros and a PhD student in the field will have to easily use around 30 such films. Also, there is only a small window of opportunity, around 1 millisecond, to make the measurements and thin films made of such metals lack the response times for such a task.

“These are some of the reasons due to which we started looking for alternatives for the platinum thin films,” said Prof Reddy.

Prof Reddy and his student S Srinath proposed to replace the use of these metals with carbon nanotubes. This was later improved to using carbon cluster films.

“The carbon clusters cost only around Rs 10 per film, which significantly reduces the cost of running the experiments. And finally, the response times of these clusters are in the order of microseconds which increases the time available for making the measurements. There is also less wastage, ” he said.
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