Turbomachinery and Propulsion Research Laboratory

obrien

Department of Mechanical Engineering
Blacksburg, VA 24061
540-231-9104

Walter F. O'Brien, Ph.D.

Director, TurboLab
J. Bernard Jones Professor
TurboLab Mission:

Investigating advanced concepts and methods for propulsion applications through research and collaboration with the turbomachinery community; and educating students in propulsion-related technologies and research methods.

  • Overview

    Propulsion-focused research at Virginia Tech began in the early 1970’s, with founding faculty members Henry Wood, Joseph Schetz, Hal Moses, and Walter O’Brien.

    In the 1970’s, Randolph Hall housed a supersonic wind tunnel.  The Turbomachinery and Propulsion Research Laboratory (TurboLab) at the Virginia Tech Airport began research operations in the late 1970’s. Turbine engines used for research in the TurboLab included T-64, F109, and JT15D-1.  Now, PT-6A and TFE731 engines have been added.

    The APPL facility opened in 2015, and added additional capability to one of the largest propulsion-related research activities in the United States. The TurboLab and APPL are now cooperating labs conducting joint propulsion research at Virginia Tech.


  • Areas of Expertise

    Turbomachinery

    Propulsion

    Inlet Distortions

    Swirl Distortions

    Flow Diagnostics

  • Papers in Refereed Journals

    Recent Papers in Refereed Journals

    • Frohnapfel, D.J., O’Brien, W.F., Lowe, K.T., 2018, “Experimental Quanfitication of Fan Rotor Effects on Inlet Swirl Using Swirl Distortion Descriptors,” Journal of Engineering for Gas Turbines and Power, doi: 10.1115/1.4039425.
    • Guimarães, T., Lowe, K.T., O’Brien, W.F., 2018, “Complex Flow Generation and Development in a Full-Scale Turbofan Inlet,” Journal of Engineering for Gas Turbines and Power, doi: 10.1115/1.4039179.
    • Guimarães, T., Lowe, K.T., O’Brien, W.F., 2018, “The StreamVane turbofan inlet swirl distortion generator: mean flow and turbulence structure,” Journal of Propulsion and Power, Vol. 34, No. 2, pp. 340-353, doi: 10.2514/1.B36422.
    • Schneck, W.C., O’Brien, W.F., 2014, “Flow Control Over a Circular Cylinder Using Pulsed Dielectric Barrier Discharge Actuators,” Journal of Turbomachinery, Vol. 137, No. 1, 011001, doi: 10.1115/1.4028236.


  • Papers in Refereed Conference Proceedings

    Recent Papers in Refereed Conference Proceedings

    • Guimarães, T., Lowe, K.T., O’Brien, W.F., 2018, “Particle Image Velocimetry for Distorted Turbofan Engine Inlet Applications,” Proceedings of 19th International Symposium on Applications of Laser and Imaging Techniques to Fluid Mechanics, July 16-19, Lisbon, Portugal.
    • Frohnapfel, D.J, Mack, E., Untaroiu, A., Lowe, K.T., O’Brien, W.F., 2018, “Turbofan Nose Cone Interactions with Inlet Swirl,” Proceedings of ASME Turbo Expo 2018, Paper Number GT2018-76616, June 11-15, Lillestrøm, Norway.
    • Pham, K.D., O’Brien, W.F., Case, S., 2018, “Characterizing Static and Dynamic Mechanical Properties for Additive Manufactured ULTEM 9085 Used to Construct Flow Control Devices for Turbomachinery Applications,” Proceedings of ASME Turbo Expo 2018, Paper Number GT2018-75430, June 11-15, Lillestrøm, Norway.
    • Pham, K.D., O’Brien, W.F., Case, S., 2018, “Static Material Properties and Fatigue Characterization of Additive-Manufactured Parts in Extrusion-Based Technologies,” Proceedings of 2018 AIAA/ASCE/AHS/ASC Structures, Structural Dynamics, and Materials Conference, AIAA SciTech Forum, Paper Number AIAA 2018-0089, January 7-11, Kissimmee, FL, USA.
    • Smith, K.N., O’Brien, W.F., Lowe, K.T., 2018, “Analysis of Duct Vortex Development with Low- and High-fidelity Models to Support StreamVane™ Design,” Proceedings of 56th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting, AIAA SciTech Forum, Paper Number AIAA 2018-1558, January 7-11, Kissimmee, FL, USA.
    • Guimarães, T., Frohnapfel, D.J., Lowe, K.T., O’Brien, W.F., 2017, “Streamwise Development and Turbulence Characterization of a Twin-Vortex Inlet Distortion for Turbofan Applications”, Proceedings of 53rd AIAA/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference, Paper Number AIAA 2017-4992, July 10-12, Atlanta, GA, USA.
    • Frohnapfel, D.J., O’Brien, W.F., Lowe, K.T., 2017, “Experimental Quantification of Fan Rotor Effects on Inlet Swirl Using Swirl Distortion Descriptors,” Proceedings of ASME Turbo Expo 2017, Paper Number GT2017-64779, June 26-30, Charlotte, NC, USA.
    • Guimarães, T., Lowe, K.T., O’Brien, W.F., 2017, “Complex Flow Generation and Development in a Full-Scale Turbofan Inlet,” Proceedings of ASME Turbo Expo 2017, Paper Number GT2017-64756, June 26-30, Charlotte, NC, USA.
    • Guimarães, T., Copenhaver, W.W., Schneck, W.C., Lowe, K.T., O’Brien, W.F., 2017, “Swirling Flow Evolution Part 1: Design and Stereo PIV Measurements at Select Planes,” Proceedings of 55th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting, AIAA SciTech Forum, Paper Number AIAA 2017-1620, January 9-13, Grapevine, TX, USA.
    • Schneck, W.C., Guimarães, T., Frohnapfel, D.J., Lowe, K.T., O’Brien, W.F., Copenhaver, W.W., 2017, “Swirling Flow Evolution Part 2: StreamFlow 2D+t Model Validated with Stereo PIV Measurements,” Proceedings of 55th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting, AIAA SciTech Forum, Paper Number AIAA 2017-1622, January 9-13, Grapevine, TX, USA.
    • Frohnapfel, D.J., O’Brien, W.F., Lowe, K.T., 2017, “Fan Rotor Flow Measurements in a Turbofan Engine Operating with Inlet Swirl Distortion,” Proceedings of 55th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting, AIAA SciTech Forum, Paper Number AIAA 2017-1623, January 9-13, Grapevine, TX, USA.
    • Lam, D.C., Schneck, W.C., O’Brien, W.F., Winfrey, A.L., 2016, “Optical measurement of plasma-fluid interactions in dielectric barrier discharges in low reynolds flows,” Proceedings of 2016 IEEE International Conference on Plasma Science (ICOPS), June 19-23, Banff, AB, Canada.
    • Schneck, W.C., O’Brien, W.F., Lam, D.C., Ferrar, A.M., Winfrey, A.L., 2016, “Optical emission spectroscopy measurements of atmospheric plasmas in cross flow created via dielectric barrier discharge actuators,” Proceedings of 2016 IEEE International Conference on Plasma Science (ICOPS), June 19-23, Banff, AB, Canada.
    • Frohnapfel, D.J., Ferrar, A.M., Bailey, J., O’Brien, W.F., Lowe, K.T., 2016, “Measurements of Fan Response to Inlet Total Pressure and Swirl Distortions Produced by Boundary Layer Ingesting Aircraft Configurations,” Proceedings of 54th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting, AIAA SciTech Forum, Paper Number AIAA 2016-0533, January 4-8, San Diego, CA, USA.
    • Guimarães, T., Lowe, K.T., O’Brien, W.F., 2016, “An overview of recent results using the StreamVane method for generating tailored swirl distortion in jet engine research,” Proceedings of 54th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting, AIAA SciTech Forum, Paper Number AIAA 2016-0534, January 4-8, San Diego, CA, USA.
    • Frohnapfel, D.J., O’Brien, W.F., Lowe, K.T., 2015, “Fan Response to Inlet Swirl Distortions Produced by Boundary Layer Ingesting Aircraft Configurations,” Proceedings of 51st AIAA/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference, Paper Number AIAA 2015-3804, July 27-29, Orlando, FL, USA.
    • Guimarães, T., Lowe, K.T., Nelson, M., O’Brien, W.F., Kirk, C.G., 2015, “Stereoscopic PIV measurements in a turbofan engine inlet with tailored swirl distortion,” Proceedings of 31st AIAA Aerodynamic Measurement Technology and Ground Testing Conference, Paper Number AIAA 2015-2866, June 22-26, Dallas, TX, USA.
    • Nelson, M., Lowe, K.T., O’Brien, W.F., Hoopes, K.M., 2014, “Stereoscopic PIV Measurements of Swirl Distortion on a Full-Scale Turbofan Engine Inlet,” Proceedings of 52nd AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting, AIAA SciTech Forum, Paper Number AIAA 2014-0533, January 13-17, National Harbor, MD, USA.
    • Hoopes, K.M., O’Brien, W.F., 2013, “The StreamVane Method: A New Way to Generate Swirl Distortion for Jet Engine Research,” Proceedings of 49th AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference, Paper Number AIAA 2013-3665, July 14-17, San Jose, CA, USA.
    • Bailey J.M., O’Brien, W.F., 2013, “The Influence of Duct Development Distance on Screen-Generated Total Pressure Distortion Profiles,” Proceedings of 49th AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference, Paper Number AIAA 2013-3602, July 14-17, San Jose, CA, USA.
    • Yu, L., Wang, D.Y., Wang, Y., Collins, C.M., Schneck, W.C., Bailey, J.M., O’Brien, W.F., Wang, A., 2013, “Engine test for wavelength-multiplexed fiber Bragg grating temperature sensor,” Proceedings of  SPIE – The International Society for Optical Engineering Vol. 8722.

Laboratory address:

Department of Mechanical Engineering
College of Engineering, Virginia Tech
635 Prices Fork Road, Blacksburg, VA 24061
540-231-6045