Engineer honored for air breathing propulsion work

Dr. Campbell Carter

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Dr. Campbell Carter

Dr. Campbell Carter, an aerospace systems engineer with the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Aerospace Systems Directorate at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, has been honored with the 2017 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Air Breathing Propulsion Award for outstanding research on optical diagnostics for high-speed flowfields.

Carter, who performs research with the High Speed Systems Division, has long been at the forefront of work that applies advance optical diagnostics to hypersonic reacting flowfields.


“Upon learning of the award, apart from feeling some personal gratification, I felt a sense of gratitude toward my colleagues. Whenever one is nominated for an award like this one, there is a burden upon the nominator, especially, but the letter writers, too. Having acted as a nominator for others, I know personally that it’s a fair amount of trouble and effort,” he said.

Carter’s overall body of work has great significance for insight into the behavior of scramjet combustors. Carter has captured images of time-resolved fuel-stream breakup, ignition, and turbulent combustion that reveal dynamic behavior not previously seen. This imagery provides much insight for future scramjet engineering endeavors.

Specifically, Carter has demonstrated high-repetition-rate planar laser-induced fluorescence imaging of intermediate chemical species in scramjet engines to enable deeper understanding of ignition and flameholding. Using laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy, he has been able to map out the fuel-to-air ratio in scramjet combustors, providing critical benchmark data for advanced computational modeling of engine behavior. To better understand the breakup of liquid fuel droplets just downstream of the fuel injector exit, Carter employed X-ray fluorescence to capture time-dependent images interior to fuel injectors.

More recently, he has worked with an academic partner to generate 3-D images of turbulent flames using species-specific luminescence. These volumetric images reveal the convoluted heat release surface of highly dynamic flames.

“Cam is an internationally recognized expert in advanced diagnostics and has made lasting contributions to high speed air breathing propulsion technology development. He is highly respected throughout the technical community, as evident by this prestigious award,” said Robert A. Mercier, chief engineer at the High Speed Systems Division.

The presentation was made July 12 at the AIAA Propulsion and Energy Forum in Atlanta. AIAA is the world’s largest technical society dedicated to the global aerospace profession.

The Air Breathing Propulsion Award is presented annually to an individual for sustained, meritorious accomplishment in the arts, science and technology of air breathing propulsion systems.

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