WEB EXTRA: GW receives NASA grant for laser research

NASA awarded $256,000 to GW’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences to research a laser technique to measure flame qualities.

CARS, which stands for Coherent Anti-Stokes Raman Scattering, is a laser technique that makes remote measurements in the temperature and gas qualities of flame. NASA is interested in this research for its application to supersonic combustion ram jets, nicknamed scramjets.

Engineering and Applied Sciences professor Andrew Cutler, who has participated in research projects at the NASA center in Hampton, Va., spearheaded GW’s entry into a national research competition that allowed the SEAS department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering to receive NASA’s grant. Cutler said about one in seven of the companies and universities that submitted proposals received grants. Other successful proposals came from University of Virginia, North Carolina State University, Stanford University and Ohio State University.

“I’m glad I was able to get money. Without it, my involvement (in this research) would have gone away,” Cutler said.

Research in the CARS field will ideally culminate in the creation of scramjets with air breathing engines designed for hypersonic flight. These scramjets would have an advantage over rockets because they would capture air from the atmosphere and they would be much lighter as a result of a minimal need for fuel and oxygen tanks.

“The idea is very old, it has been being investigated since before the Apollo program,” Cutler said of the research. “It’s difficult to make it work.”

The money allotted to GW will go toward hiring a research scientist and at least one graduate student and equipment fees. Cutler will lead the research project.

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