Notre Dame holds ribbon cutting for new Turbomachinery Laboratory

Author: Sue Lister

Notre Dame Turbomachinery Laboratory

Nearly two years ago to the day of the ribbon cutting, the University of Notre Dame announced a plan to build a $36 million turbomachinery research and testing laboratory at Ignition Park in South Bend. On that day, June 25, 2014, the University and its project partners — the City of South Bend, Great Lakes Capital, the state of Indiana and Indiana Michigan Power — unveiled a vision for the new Notre Dame Turbomachinery Laboratory (NDTL), a high-powered research laboratory to analyze and advance the technology of gas turbine engines used for jet aircraft, power generation plants and the oil and gas industry.

Tuesday (June 7), the 25,000-square-foot facility was officially opened with a ribbon cutting ceremony featuring University leaders and researchers along with community, state and private sector representatives. Researchers at the NDTL will study aerodynamics, thermodynamics and structural mechanics of parts of large rotating machines, with a focus on things such as vibration, stability, flow and efficiency.

“This facility gives our students and faculty a unique capability — we can work in a research and development space no one else works in,” said Vice President for Research Robert J. Bernhard. “It will help us draw the best faculty and graduate students to Notre Dame while providing valuable data to our business partners about their technology and equipment.”

The University had previously operated a smaller-scale turbomachinery facility on campus, where it employed about 10 people. The new lab has five times as much space with four test bays and room to grow, in terms of both space and partners. Leading the NDTL are Joshua Cameron, research assistant professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering and director of the new laboratory, and Scott Morris, professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering and the lab’s research director. The lab currently employs 37 people and will eventually employ about 60.

General Electric Corp., the original launch sponsor, is preparing to start a project in one of the lab’s test bays, and Notre Dame expects the other bays to be busy with collaborations with a diverse set of turbomachinery industry partners. Through its previous work, the turbomachinery researchers have developed relationships with sponsors and collaborators including Pratt & Whitney, Rolls Royce, Honeywell, Siemens, ANSYS, NASA and the Air Force Research Lab, and recently have held exploratory conversations with these partners about expanding into the new NDTL.

The University also announced during the ceremony that it has signed a Center of Excellence agreement with Pratt & Whitney, a United Technologies Corp. company

“We are very excited about the addition of Notre Dame as one of our University Centers of Excellence. Pratt & Whitney is committed to differentiating our products through investment in fundamental research and development of new technologies. Notre Dame has outstanding technical capabilities that complement our research needs,” said Chris Kmetz, vice president and chief engineer, Systems Design and Component Integration, Pratt & Whitney, and a 1991 graduate of Notre Dame. “This relationship also allows us to bring our expertise to the next generation of engineers in a way that complements their traditional studies.”

Contact: Jasmin Avila, communications program manager, Notre Dame Turbomachinery Laboratory, 574-631-1821, javila4@nd.edu