Case Studies

Optimized design for product performance in real world application

In 2014 Huntington Ingalls Industries / Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) awarded Barber-Nichols Inc. (BNI) a multi-year contract to produce MK21 Air Turbine Pump Assemblies for the U.S. Navy’s Virginia-Class Submarine Program. The contract for twenty units to be delivered over a five-year period starting in 2015, was BNI’s largest contract to date, and the award was based in part on the company’s past performance supplying the ten-stage MK21 Air Turbine Subassembly. But this case study doesn’t start with the 2014 MK21 Air Turbine Pump contract award, it starts in the 1980s with some engineers trying to figure out how to cost effectively manufacture an extremely quiet ten-stage turbine.

In 2004 the U.S. Department of Energy and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology theorized that replacing a traditional steam Rankine cycle in a power plant with a supercritical carbon dioxide (CO2) Brayton cycle would be 7% - 12% more efficient and allow power plants to deliver more electricity from a fixed amount of fuel. To further this research, the DOE's Sandia National Laboratories partnered with Barber-Nichols to address technical risk items and advance the technical readiness level to the point where it could be commercialized. This case study provides a brief look back at the origins of the supercritical CO2 power cycle including its potential benefits and and how its areas of technical risk were overcome to reach its current state of commercial readiness.

Barber-Nichols designed and built a 6 kW Uninterruptible Power System that utilized a High Inertia Turbine (HIT 6). The alternator is situated between the turbine wheel and the 2.0 kg (4.5 lb) fly wheel.

BNI teamed with Lockheed Martin to work on an unmanned, lighter-than-air vehicle that will maintain a geostationary position at an altitude of 65,000 feet.


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