COVID-19 Reporting and Information • HEERF I & II


New Research Projects in FY19-20

Developing an Electric Vehicle Demonstration Testbed in the Upper Cumberland Region of Tennessee

Principal Investigator:  Pingen Chen, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering

Co-PIs:  Stephen Canfield Ph.D., Vahid Motevalli, Ph.D., Indranil Bhattacharya, Ph.D. and Olorunfemi Ojo, Ph.D.

Funding Agency: Department of Energy

Three-year Award Total: $1,559,686 (DOE Funding $779,823; Cost Share $779,863)

Photo of Dr. Chen and EV

This project creates a proof-of-concept demonstration testbed for electric vehicles (EVs) and charging infrastructures in the Upper Cumberland region.  Comprehensive data is collected and analyzed to report the operation cost, issues and performance of EVs to help potential fleet owners and the public at large make informed decisions in EV adoption for rural areas before making significant financial investment.

Development of Corrosion- and Erosion-Resistant Coatings for Advanced Ultra-Supercritical Materials

Principal Investigator:  Ying Zhang, Ph.D., Professor, Mechanical Engineering

Co-PIs:  Jiahong Zhu, Ph.D. and Dr. Yung Shin (Purdue University)

Funding Agency: Department of Energy

Eighteen Month Award Total:  $1,250,755 (DOE Funding $999,999; Cost-Share $250,756)

This project aims to develop and evaluate corrosion- and erosion-resistant coatings for advanced ultra-supercritical (AUSC) materials using a cost-effective electrolytic co-deposition process.  The focus is on enhancing both corrosion and erosion properties of the electro-co-deposited coatings for the protection of high-pressure steam turbine blades in AUSC pulverized coal-fired power plants.

Intelligent Robot for TVA Substation Inspection

Principal Investigator:  Ali Alouani, Ph.D., Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Funding Agency:  TVA

Three-Year Award Total: $424,258

The objective for this research is the design of an intelligent robot to collect relevant data while autonomously traveling across a substation for the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).  The robot automatically communicates pertinent data to a maintenance team / control center / operator via a dashboard.  The robot has on-board intelligence and learning capabilities, utilizing sensor data fusion to detect abnormal patterns and alert the appropriate person in real-time.  It also detects visible wear and tear of a piece of equipment in the substation by analyzing acquired images.  The robot is to be utilized in substations of different sizes and topologies.

High-Performance Laboratory-Scale Gas Atomizer for Materials and Coatings Research

Principal Investigator:  Ying Zhang, Ph.D., Professor, Mechanical Engineering

Funding Agency:  Office of Naval Research

Award Total: $315,000

This Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP) grant is for a high-performance laboratory-scale gas atomizer.  The atomizer will be used to manufacture high-quality metal/alloy powders with unique compositions and properties for emerging applications.  This new equipment will enhance TTU research and education capabilities in the areas of advanced coatings, metal additive manufacturing and energy conversion devices.

 New Research Projects in FY20-21

Investigations into the Design Rules for the Control of Wire + Arc Additive Manufacturing

Principal Investigator:  DuckBong Kim, Ph.D., Manufacturing and Engineering Technology, Assistant Professor

Funding Agency:  National Science Foundation

Three-Year Award Total: $225,181

The research goals for this project are: 1) gain fundamental knowledge about the surface waviness and effective wall thickness formation mechanisms in thin/inclined walls and multi-bead/multilayer structures, and 2) investigate the design rules for the control scheme in wire + arc additive manufacturing (WAAM).   The project will provide innovative and transformative knowledge and methodology, leading to greater efficiency and improved profitability in the aerospace, defense, and automotive industries, for example.  Especially, it will provide the critical basis for reducing the time-consuming and cost-intensive machining part of the hybrid manufacturing process.  Also, this project will help develop the professional skills of K-12, undergraduate, and graduate students, including underrepresented minorities, by training them through a unique set of integrated education/modern multidisciplinary research opportunities in a new area of WAAM and data analytics.

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