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2017-07-14 / News

Construction for new ARL research facility has begun

by Halie Kines
Industry Reporter

State College, PA – On May 5, Penn State’s Board of Trustees gave the ‘all clear’ and approved the design and funding for construction on a new addition to its energy testing facility in Benner Township. Since then, the construction on the Applied Research Laboratory (ARL) Energy Science and Power Systems Test Facility has begun and is expected to be finished and opened in the spring of 2018.

The addition will cost $6 million, according to a release from Penn State. The building is located next to an existing ARL test site off of Fox Hill Road.

ARL at Penn State was established in 1945 by the U.S. Navy and according to its website, “provides solutions to problems in national security, economic competitiveness and quality of life.” The ARL faculty and staff provide technical leadership and prepare new scientists and engineers for the Naval workforce. ARL is the largest research unit within Penn State with more than 1,000 faculty and staff.

“The new test facility is targeted for immediate use in accelerating the development of two Navy development programs for undersea energy systems,” Angus Hendrick said. “In addition, it will support moving some ongoing work to a more remote location, which will make us a better neighbor in the community.” Hendrick is the head of the Energy Science and Power Systems Division at the Penn State ARL.

The new and larger test space will be beneficial to the ARL community at Penn State.

“ARL performs a wide variety of testing that requires specialized test space, including engine testing, new power systems, rocket technology and other tests that involve noise, high pressures and temperatures. Expanding the test space allows us to increase the pace and scope of important testing in these areas and accelerate the pace at which new technology can be delivered,” Hendrick said.

According to a release from Penn State, the 8,000-square-foot building will have concrete test cells, control rooms, specialty workshops, an assembly room, mezzanine, as well as other facets. The release also said that it “will support ARL’s efforts to conduct research, development and systems engineering, including the development of energy and power systems for the U.S. Navy, NASA and other government agencies.”

There are a couple of reasons why now is the right time for this addition to be built and used.

“Some ARL test facilities are aging and need to be recapitalized in order to maintain key capabilities. At the same time, the Navy has identified growing requirements for new energy and power technologies in the coming years and these facilities are needed to meet those needs.”

Hendrick sees a bright future ahead for the division.

“The Energy Science and Power Systems Division is a long-term resource for the Navy in advanced thermal power systems as part of ARL’s University Affiliated Research Center core competencies.

“We will continue to support technology development for primarily Navy energy and power systems for the foreseeable future, as well as sponsors such as DARPA, NASA, and the NRC.

“Development efforts will include new fuels, efficiency improvements and power and energy density improvements, as well as more fundamental research on boiling phenomena and chemical reactions.”

The news was met with joy when the people at the Energy Science and Power Systems Division heard about the Board of Trustee’s approving the design and construction funding.

“The team here was both happy and relieved. We felt like this facility was essential to the long-term health of the organization and we were glad that the board agreed,” Hendrick said.

Hendrick said that the construction project is being managed by the PSU Office of Physical Plant following their new construction processes. Hoffman Leakey Architects, LLC in Boalsburg performed the design and construction is being managed and executed by P.J. Dick, Inc, which is located in Pittsburgh. .

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