NYU-Poly Research on Composite Materials Promises Safer Ships for Navy

As lightweight composite materials increasingly replace heavier steel in order to make vehicles, ships and aircraft more fuel-efficient, engineers face a dearth of data on how the new materials react to vibrations and shock waves that can be equally damaging as direct impacts.

The U.S. Navy has commissioned new research at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly) that will aid engineers in designing safer and higher-performing ships, aircrafts and land vehicles. The findings could potentially lead to an improved understanding of blast injuries sustained by soldiers, as well as to increased use of composites in skyscrapers and other construction projects, according to the lead investigators, Drs. Nikhil Gupta and Maurizio Porfiri of NYU-Poly’s Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department.

NYU-Poly faculty and students will conduct the U.S. Navy Research Development Test & Evaluation (RDT&E) project called Shock and Vibration Modeling of Marine Composites. The $2 million project will allow NYU-Poly team to investigate and develop new composite materials, analytical tools and processing methods that can be used on naval vessels. 

The use of composite materials has been rapidly increasing and now exceeds 8 million tons per year, a large part of which is used in civilian and military aircrafts. Recent breakthroughs in composites allow scientists to create lightweight, durable materials with greater capacity to mitigate blast and vibration effects, which is crucial to building safer ships and aircraft used by the U.S. Navy. The NYU-Poly team will develop advanced composite materials that will increase naval vessels’ damage tolerance and reduce their structural weight, a major goal of the U.S. Navy that could save billions of taxpayer dollars.
Prior research into how composites react to blast waves has largely been forensic; according to Drs. Gupta and Porfiri. The new project will develop a comprehensive facility for shock and vibration testing of materials along with scientific procedures and protocols for assessing blast and vibration effects on composites.  

U.S. Representative Edolphus “Ed” Towns (NY-10) secured the research funding as part of the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2010 that was signed into law by President Barack Obama.

“Chairman Towns' support for this research comes as the U.S. Navy is transitioning to a greater reliance on advanced composite materials for its ships, submarines and aircraft,” said NYU-Poly President Jerry Hultin.  “This funding will allow our faculty and students to continue to support the Navy's future research and development requirements.  We are very grateful for Chairman Towns' continuing support of NYU-Poly.”


About Polytechnic Institute of New York University

Polytechnic Institute of New York University (formerly Polytechnic University), an affiliate of New York University, is New York’s most comprehensive school of engineering, applied sciences, technology and research, and is rooted in Polytechnic’s 156-year tradition of invention, innovation and entrepreneurship – i2e.

The institution, founded in 1854, is one of the nation’s oldest private engineering schools. In addition to its main campus at MetroTech Center in downtown Brooklyn, it offers programs at sites throughout the region and around the globe. NYU-Poly has centers in Long Island, Manhattan and Westchester County; globally, it has programs in Israel, China and will be an integral part of NYU's campus in Abu Dhabi opening in autumn 2010.