The Fatigue Factor

09.06.2006 | Faculty, EngineeringIf a University of Dayton researcher finds a smoother ride for the world's fastest sled, it could give drivers a better idea of when to head to the mechanic for tire and oil changes.

The U.S. Air Force has contracted UD civil engineering professor Bob Brockman to find ways to predict where and how fast material deteriorates in high-energy situations. By predicting wear and tear, catastrophic failures may be averted by preventative maintenance.

"Material failure," like a blown-out tire or a cracked jet engine, "is very difficult to predict," Brockman said. "This is an area that has a lot of trickle-down value. A good model could be picked up directly by those working on other similar problems."

Brockman said manufacturers and mechanics who work with tires, car engines, jet engines, propellers and anything with metal parts that come into contact with each other could benefit from any answers Brockman finds in his research.

Brockman will be examining the rails on which the U.S. Air Force propels a sled at speeds of up to 7,600 mph to simulate crashes, weapons' impact and other high-speed, high-damage situations. He said he hopes to find ways to predict the wear and tear that create a rougher sled ride and less-than-optimum testing conditions. Better predictors could help the Air Force reduce the time it takes examining several miles of the sled's rails for blemishes.

UD is first in Ohio and 13th nationally among universities for federally funded engineering research. Among Catholic universities nationally, the University of Dayton is first in the amount of non-medical research it performs.

For more information, contact Bob Brockman at 937-229-2985.