UTSI Research Park

The Research Park at UTSI houses over 80,000 ft2 of laboratories located in multiple buildings on the campus. Several centers are located in the labs including the Center for Laser Applications (CLA), The HORIZON (High-Speed Original Research and Innovation Zone) Center for Hypersonic Research, and the Center for Computational and Experimental Aerospace Research (CEAR).

Chemistry Science Laboratory

Materials Science Laboratory

Advanced Technology Laboratory

Nanodynamics and High-Efficiency Laboratory (NanoHelp Lab)

Flow Diagnostics Laboratory

Picosecond Laboratory

Center for Laser Applications (CLA)
The CLA facility was established in 1984 as a state funded “Center of Excellence” to provide outstanding capabilities in research, education, and technology transfer relating to laser applications. The CLA occupies buildings 8184 and 8189 and consists of over 29,000 ft2 of lab and office space. The laboratories contain advanced laser system, optics, materials processing and analytical systems. The labs also include a class clean room nano-fabrication facility and a chemistry lab.


The High-Speed Original Research and Innovation Zone (HORIZON) was founded in the fall of 2014 when Dr. John Schmisseur joined the faculty at UTSI.  His goal was to conduct foundational research in aerothermodynamics and the science of ground testing through both his research on the numerical modeling of complex flows and shock waves, and the experimental capabilities of the university. He is building a center with the goal of national leadership in aerospace and defense research

HORIZON also has a close partnership with the Arnold Engineering and Development Complex (AEDC) and the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) both located at Arnold Air Force Base, a few minutes from UTSI’s campus.  It has also developed a close relationship with leading academic intuitions around the nation. Dr. Schmisseur’s goal is that the partnership with AEDC and AFRL and other universities will create a culture of hypersonic research and innovation within the region that strongly impacts national technology development programs.

TALon (Tennessee Aerothermal Laboratory)

The TALon Lab has 8,515 ft2 of laboratory and offices dedicated to advanced hypersonic research.  The facility houses the M4 Ludwieg tunnel, the new M7 Ludwieg tunnel and the proposed new high enthalpy tunnel.







M4 Ludwieg Wind Tunnel

  • Ludwieg style wind tunnel
  • Mach 4 run conditions
  • 24” x 24” x 72” Test Section
  • 105’ x 24” Driver Section
  • 150 psig Driver Pressure
  • 1 torr downstream vacuum
  • 200 ms on-condition time.





  • Ludwieg style wind tunnel
  • Mach 7 run conditions
  • 18” x 18” 2D Test Section
  • 36” Axisymmetric free-jet test section
  • 100’ x 10” Driver Section
  • 300 psig Driver Pressure
  • 550°F Driver operating temperature
  • 1 torr downstream vacuum
  • 200 ms on-condition time.


Fluid Dynamics Lab –Water Channel

A water channel laboratory is available for fluid flow modeling studies.  The facility includes an Aerolab water channel that has a 15” x 20” x 60” test section with three transparent sides.  The water speed is infinitely variable from 0 to 3 ft/sec.  Up to 6 different colored or florescent dyes may be injected for flow visualization.  Laser light sheets to aid visualization can be created using 405nm or 513 nm lasers.  A custom 2 axis force balance is also available for lift and drag studies.  Water velocity is monitored using a Sierra Instruments, Innova-Sonic Model 205 ultrasonic flow meter.








The Low Speed Wind Tunnel Facility contains a subsonic, single pass, ambient air wind tunnel.   Precise air speeds of 0 – 250 fps can be controlled through its 14 inch high, 20 inch wide, 3 foot long test section.  The tunnel is also equipped with a 29” by 9.5” moving floor to simulate a roadbed for vehicle aerodynamic studies.  The flow is monitored and controlled with a National Instruments LabVIEW DAQ and control system.

Cryogenic Fuel Rocket Engine Test stand

The Cryogenic Fuel Rocket Engine Test Stand houses a facility for testing small cryogenically fuel rocket engines and evaluating cryogenic rocket fuels. To supply the cryogenic liquid methane (LCH4) used as a fuel, a cryogenic methane condenser has been developed.  Run tanks for LCH4 and LOX are available.


High Speed Wind Tunnel

The Mach 2 Wind Tunnel Facility contains a supersonic, blow-down wind tunnel.  The test section is 8” x 8” x 4’. The max pressure rating for the stilling plenum is 70 psi.  The operating air is supplied from the UTSI high pressure air facility with run times of up to 2 minutes. Flow visualization can be accomplished with a variety of techniques including schlieren imaging, particle image velocimetry (PIV), high speed imaging, oil flow and pressure sensitive paint (PSP).

Shaker Table Facility

The Shaker Table Facility consists of a Ling B335 shaker table with Data Physics Signal Star Vector Controller capable of the following modes: Random, Sine, Classic Shock, Shock Response Spectrum. The shaker can generate 17,500lb force total load, up to 150 G and up to +/- 0.5 in displacement.  It can be operated from 5 to 3000 Hz and has a 70 in/s max velocity. The table can support vertical static loads of 2,000 lbs and horizontal statics loads of 1,000 lbs (five inches from the table surface).


Chamber 11F

A large cryogenically cooled, computer controlled 9-ft (2.7m) dia x 20-ft (6.0m)long vacuum chamber, capable of maintaining a baseline pressure of 0.1 microtorr.  The chamber is outfitted with an LN2 cryo-liner and a helium-cooled cryosurface with an active area of about 36,000 sq in.  The cryosurface can be cooled to about 20K and at that temperature can absorb a 900W heat load.  Vacuum pumping is accomplished by twin Stokes roots blowers, a Sumitomo Marathon CP-16 Cryopump capable of pumping 4800 l/s N2, 17,300 l/s H20, 4100 l/s Ar and 12,000 l/s H2.  Additional pumping is supplied by an Edwards STP-XA320C magnetically levitated 24000 rpm turbopump capable of pumping 4000 l/s N2 or 2,500 l/s H2.

Chamber 20V

A vertical stainless steel chamber with an ID of 22” and a height of 18” , pumped by an Osaka model TG220FRAB turbomolecular pump with a 220 l/s nitrogen pump speed.  The chamber has an 20” ID, LN2 cryo-liner and a Sumitomo CH-210 cold head/ F70L compressor module with a 120W/77K 1st stage and a 7.0W/20K 2nd stage.

Chamber 29H

A horizontal stainless steel chamber with an ID of 34” and a length of 60”. The chamber has an 29” ID, LN2 cryo-liner.

Chamber 15H

A horizontal stainless steel chamber with an ID of 15” and a length of 56”.

Compressed Air Supply System

High Pressure Air

High pressure air capabilities include three banks of six 3,000 psig air storage tanks that are individually valved into the high pressure air supply system.  This can flow rates of up to 200 lbm/s.  System recharge is provided by a Norwalk TDR-S5T five stage tandem reciprocating compressor at 600 acfm or ~0.75 lbm/sec.  Air tank storage capacity is 833 ft3  which equates to 12,700 lbm air storage at 3000 psi and 70°F. Storage tank pressure should only be dropped 50% over short periods to avoid excessive stress to the tanks.   Therefore, there is a maximum of about 6,350 lbm of air available over short periods.

Low Pressure Air 

Low pressure, high volume flow is provided at 6 lbm/sec up to 150 psi by regulating the 3000 psig high pressure supply through a Dresser/Grove 311B Powreactor 1.5” regulator (Cv = 26). This air is piped to the PRF facility underground 1080 ft through 4” pipe that provides geothermal temperature stability.

Building 8188, 8121, 8123, 8185, the Propulsion Research Facility and the high pressure storage facility are connected by piping that allows air up to 150 psig to be transferred between facilities.  This allows regulated air from the tank farm to be distributed, but also allows the compressors at the PRF and the compressors at the compressor building (8123), to be distributed wherever needed.

Three Pennsylvania7.5 x 3.25 x 7 compressors in building 8123 provide dry 125 psi air that is dryed with a Styl Air desiccant air dryer.  These compressors are 94 CFM at intake for a mass flow of 0.117  lbm/sec at 70°F atmospheric input. Storage is provided by two 130 gallon (17.28ft3) tanks. 

The Propulsion Research Facility has three compressors located in building 8188.  They are connected by a 2” line through an Ingersoll Rand HL500 desiccant dryer with 500 scfm inlet flow at dew point of -40°C or 400 SCFM with dew point of -100°C. Storage is provided by two 620 cu. ft. tanks. 

Compressors in 8188:

Ingersoll Rand model R75i-125 rotary screw compressor, 0.54 lbm/sec, 455 scfm, 125 psi., Ingersoll Rand Model EP150, 0.7 lbm/sec, 587 scfm., Sullair rotary           screw model 12BS-60HACAC, 0.25 lbm/sec, 209 cfm, max air pressure 125-135 psi.

Heated Low Pressure Air

The UTSI Propulsion Research Facility has the capability of supplying heated air with flow rates up to 6 lbm/sec and pressures up to 150 psi.  This can be directed though a 0.5 um Balston coalescing filter and a 274KW HETC electric air heater.  Examples of capabilities are heated air at 2.0 lbm/sec at 500°F or 1.46 lbm/sec at 650°F.  The air comes from the high pressure storage facility with at least 6,200 lbm of usable air that can be recharged at a rate of 0.75lbm/sec or the low pressure compressors.


UTSI’s full service machine shop, offers a variety of machine shop capabilities.  The shop building has a floor space of 4,000 square feet. Machinery includes a variety of milling, lathes and other machines. Expert machinists are available for quality research fabrication.


 Haas VF-9 84” x 40” x 30”

Vertical Axis CNC Mill

Haas 4 Axis CNC Mill

10 Inch Monarch Lathe (2)

16 Inch Monarch Lathe (2)

20 Inch Monarch Lathe (2)

Harding Lathe

Index Vertical Mill

Bridgport Vertical Mill (2)

Kearney and Trecker Horizontal Mill (2)

Southbend Horizontal Mill

Powermatic Band Saw

Doall Band Saw (2)

Johnson Cutoff Saw

Cincinnati Tool Grinder

Grand Rapis Surface Grinder

Avey Drill Press

Wysong Shear

The Propulsion Research Facility consists of several buildings in a fully fenced in area.  The test building houses a General Electric J85-5H afterburning turbojet for jet engine, augmentor and sensor research. Both low hour and high hour engines are available. The engines can be operated over the complete throttle range from idle to full afterburner. The engine is fully instrumented and performance, operability, control-settings and component performance are displayed and recorded. The J85-GE-5 engine is a high-thrust, lightweight turbojet engine currently used in several aerospace propulsion applications, most notably the USAF T-38 Talon aircraft. The engine was selected for use in the test stand because of its ease of operation, fuel economy, parts availability, and ability to provide an environment representative of larger military turbine engines. It has an eight-stage, high-lift, axial-flow compressor driven by a two-stage turbine rotor. The engine incorporates a through-flow, annular-type combustion system, controlled compressor interstage bleed air, and an afterburner with a variable-area exit nozzle. The basic hot engine dimensions are 280 cm (109 in.) in length and 50 cm (20 in.) in diameter. Engine dry mass with afterburner is 265 kg (584 lbm). The engine thrust at standard day, sea-level-static conditions is 2,680 lbf at military and 3,850 lbf at maximum afterburner. Nozzle exit exhaust gas temperature ranges from 750 K (1,360ºR) at idle to 2,000 K (3,660ºR) at maximum afterburning conditions.  The J85 is positioned on a thrust frame such that the nozzle exit plane is slightly downstream of the thrust frame, permitting a flow field rake traversing mechanism or other exit plane diagnostics systems to be positioned as close to the nozzle exit plane as possible. The engine is operated at sea-level-static conditions from idle to maximum afterburner using JP8 fuel in most test efforts. Engine health parameters are recorded as well as surveillance camera images. 

The nominal values for the exhaust gas parameters for

 the J85 at max A/B are:

  • Total temperature = 2000 K
  • Total pressure = 30 psi
  • Mach no. = 0.85
  • Velocity = 3480 fps
  • Density = 0.011 lbm/cu-ft
  • Nozzle area = 14.2 in.
  • Mass flow = 43.7 lbm/sec

The temperature of the exhaust varies from nominally 1600 K at the centerline to a peak 2000 K mid-way to the plume edge as shown in the temperature distribution in the AIAA paper 2012-0811.

The current high-pressure fuel system is capable of supplying a total fuel flow up to 30 gpm using up to seven separate fuel zones with independent pressure control from 50 to 700 psi. Each zone can flow up to 15 gpm, with a combined total flow of  30 gpm. It is possible to measure total fuel flow and supply manifold pressure, and individual pressure, temperature, and mass flow of each zone. The zones can be programmed to flow at different intervals, and ramp up/down is possible for each zone. 

Two CAT high pressure pumps are available for sensor cooling: CAT TENCARVA  20 gpm, 1500 psi and  a CAT  TMC 30 gpm, 1450 psi.  Water is filtered through a filter cart with dual parallel 150 PSI@300°F housings supporting various filters from 5 micron to 200 microns.

The University of Tennessee Space Institute (UTSI), located adjacent to the U.S. Air force Arnold Engineering Development Center in Tullahoma, is a branch of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) serving the unique research and education needs of the Air Force and Middle Tennessee. The Space Institute, so named because of its emphasis on aerospace and aeronautical studies in the early days of space exploration, was initially established for the educational needs of the Air Force and the Arnold Research Organization.

Established in 1964 as part of the University of Tennessee, UTSI occupies a 365-acre wooded campus beside Woods Reservoir. The campus has been internationally recognized for graduate study and research and currently offers programs in mechanical, aerospace and biomedical engineering (MABE) and physics and distance education-based engineering management.

UTSI offers graduate students the opportunity for hands-on research world class researchers and instruments. Since its establishment, UTSI has graduated over 2,600 students from around the world. Students earning graduate degrees and certificates in disciplines offered by the University of Tennessee Space Institute are graduates of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Many students earn their degrees through funding provided by Graduate Research Assistance ships (GRAs) made possible through research contracts. Within several diverse research areas, faculty-student teams of aerospace engineers, mechanical engineers, and physicists perform problem-oriented, multidisciplinary research. The Industrial and Systems Engineering/Engineering Management online degree program at UTSI provides practicing engineers with an educational experience balancing technical depth with leadership, project management, financial management, technology transfer, ethical and legal perspectives, team relations, organizational behavior, and continuous quality improvement. It empowers participants with the knowledge and skills needed to lead technical organizations or processes to success. For years, UTSI has served Tennessee industry by offering an off-campus Master of Science (MS) degree program in Engineering Management.

UTSI has many distinguished alumni, several of whom have achieved national fame as astronauts, company presidents, chief scientists, engineering managers, and renowned scholars and scientists. Many alumni occupy high-level positions in industry and universities in the United States and other countries as well. Twelve astronauts have attended UTSI, with nine graduating with a master’s degree.

UTSI’s Continuing Education program provides short courses ranging from one day to two weeks for industry and academia. These courses include offerings through the UT Center for Industrial Services and nationally recognized professional organizations. Course topics range from computer training rt tailored courses for military, industry, and small business which award Continuing Education Credits (CWEUs) for Professional Development.