Ozark IC Wins Funding to Develop Platform for Jet Engine Systems

June 21st, 2017 by Rebecca Todd

Fayetteville-based Ozark Integrated Circuits has won a $750,000 Phase II award from the Department of Defense Air Force to develop a rugged physical platform that will enhance electronic control and management of jet engines.

For the two-year Small Business Technology Transfer project, Ozark IC will collaborate with the University of Arkansas’ High Density Electronics Center.

Ozark Integrated Circuits team

Ozark IC team

Everyday silicon electronic systems and present-day platforms have a maximum temperature of around 125°C. “Temperatures ranging from 200-300°C are experienced in situations such as oil and gas wells, industrial controls and, of special interest to the Air Force, in jet engines,” said Dr. Matt Francis, CEO of Ozark IC. This project involves the development of a physical platform that will hold and interconnect electronic components at temperatures above 200°C.

The Phase II prototype of the platform will prove its fast-turnaround, low-cost advantages. “To illustrate its performance in a practical, urgently-needed application, an “intelligent” sensing node (which is a key component in the electronic control of jet engines) will be created and shown to meet the rigorous, high-temperature jet engine requirements,” Francis said.

Phase I Outcomes
In Phase I of this project, Ozark IC developed:
• A software system that enables the simultaneous creation of the platform and its components, taking into account their interactions – something that has not been done before
• The design of the platform and the materials used in the platform
• Techniques to reduce the costs

Benefits to the End Users
Ozark IC’s platform for jet engines is anticipated to enable fast (1-2 weeks) turnaround, right-first-time designs at almost half the cost of existing solutions. Performance will be enhanced by being able to work at higher temperatures.

“In many cases, time-to-market is paramount and the ability to eliminate design re-spins by taking into account the interactions between the platform and its components is crucially important,” said Francis.

Ozark IC has established expertise in all the required areas based on its performance and work. “The feedback from our sponsor was that Ozark IC delivered more and better work in the Phase I part of the project than was expected,” said Ian Getreu, Ozark IC director of business development.

University Collaboration
Ozark IC has a long history of working with the University of Arkansas, including the Mixed-Signal CAD Laboratory, the Trusted Logic Circuit Laboratory, the Arkansas Center for Space and Planetary Sciences, and the High Density Electronics Center (HiDEC).

HiDEC’s manufacturing capability will be used to produce prototypes of the high-temperature platform.

“On a personal note, the late Dr. Michael Glover of HiDEC, who died unexpectedly at a very early age last year, was a major driver and innovator in this effort. His influence, ideas, support and friendship are greatly missed,” said Francis.

Customer Engagement
The Air Force is working with the Distributed Engine Controls Working Group (DECWG), which is an industrial consortium that helps to define what is needed for the electronic control of jet engines. “Ozark IC began working with DECWG in Phase I, since its members are the major providers of jet engines and their components to the Air Force. As such, DECWG members are potential customers for the Ozark IC high-temperature platform,” said Francis.

Ozark IC has also reached out to potential customers in other markets. “Ozark IC has a relationship with NASA (space exploration) and companies in the gas and geothermal well exploration market and in the high-temperature electronic component market (who need the platform for their components). We have also developed initial contacts with customers in the diesel engine market, “said Getreu.

ASBTDC Assistance
“There is no better supporter of Ozark IC’s work than the ASBTDC. Rebecca Norman is considered a virtual part of the company and is the first person outside the company to be told of our achievements and needs,” said Getreu. “ASBTDC’s market research and proposal review services are essential for Ozark IC’s success,” said Francis.