A track record of breakthrough innovations
For over fifty years, Concepts NREC has consistently provided customers worldwide with engineering innovations that have resulted in performance breakthroughs, manufacturing efficiencies, and other competitive advantages.
1956 (August 28)
Northern Research and Engineering Corporation (NREC) was formally incorporated in the shadow of MIT (Cambridge, MA) with a charter “to engage in the business of scientific research and engineering in all fields of endeavor...”
- Initial projects involved designing and building a miniature high-speed pump for the Instrumentation Lab at MIT to be used on guidance systems for missiles and spacecraft.
- Later in the decade, projects followed for United Technologies to help develop environmental cooling and heating control systems for the F-108 fighter and the B-70 bomber.
- The study of vapor-cycle refrigeration units for aircraft cooling systems led to NREC’s first digital computer programs for the optimization of compressor, evaporator, and condenser performance. This culminated in a major study for the U.S. Navy to compare air-cycle, vapor-cycle, and absorption cooling systems for Polaris-class submarines.
At the turn of the decade, NREC opened a London office whose work centered on combustion and, most importantly, gas-turbine combustion. Meanwhile, at its main facility, NREC continued to contribute to a wide range of applications and developed a significant record of innovation in the advancement of turbomachinery.
- Of great importance for the future, NREC began conducting a series of jointly sponsored programs whose output included the forerunners of licensed software for all component design in gas-turbine engines, including compressors, turbines, and pumps, both radial and axial. NREC’s support of CFD research helped pave the way for later successes.
- NREC conducted a systematic experimental program to measure the effects of various parameters on the performance of centrifugal stages.
- Near the end of the decade, NREC rerated a booster compressor for a nitrogen plant and delivered the largest cast impeller up to that point in time (with one of the original applications of 17-4 PH stainless steel as well). Twenty years later, the machine was still operating flawlessly.
- With NASA Manned Spacecraft Center, NREC developed compact heat-exchanger software for the Apollo space program and, subsequently, for the space shuttle.
- NREC also helped the Air Force solve combustion instability problems associated with aircraft engines.
The decade saw NREC continue to narrow its focus to turbomachinery and gas-turbine engines, resulting in several experimental programs to improve impeller efficiency, surge margin, and diffuser performance. In turn, this led to a string of successes with NREC demonstrating record efficiencies in a wide range of equipment from Brayton Cycle turbines to industrial compressors to radial-inflow steam turbines. Subsequently, to assure a continued availability as a resource to the turbomachinery industry, Ingersoll-Rand (I-R) acquired an ownership interest in NREC and, in 1978, it becomes a wholly-owned subsidiary. NREC was allowed to continue providing advanced technology, engineering, and product development to the entire worldwide turbomachinery community.
- NREC continued its industry-leading work in reducing aircraft engine emissions as supervision passed from HEW to the fledgling EPA. NREC also helped the FAA monitor the emissions of installed engines in the nation’s airline fleets.
- With Coast Guard funding, NREC developed a portable high-lift pump system to fight fires in deep-water harbors and at sea.
- Under U.S. Navy funding, NREC designed the first air dynamometer capable of testing the power output of a wide spectrum of turboshaft engines.
- With its own funding, NREC developed one of the world’s first microturbines, but rapidly rising oil prices prevented its commercial success.
Concepts ETI (CETI) was founded by Dr. David Japikse with specialization in Education and Technology for Industry. Among CETI’s valuable early contributions was a publication that identified and summarized important technical articles for the turbomachinery community. In addition, CETI began an annual series of seminars/lectures with respected speakers on important turbomachinery topics.
- Based upon the mutual respect of their complementary capabilities, CETI and NREC combined efforts and expertise in 1982 to present a week long seminar on design advances in turbomachinery held at a Digital Equipment facility in the Olympic Stadium in Munich, Germany.
- CETI won its first Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant to develop compact aeroengine diffusers, a technology now in use by a variety of small gas-turbine designs.
- CETI acquired the second Polytec L2 F laser system in the USA and established an industrial consortium to determine detailed flow field characteristics in radial and axial compressors and radial turbines.
- Later, CETI conducted a five-part consortium series on Compressor Diffuser Design and Performance, resulting in patented technology that has been widely dispersed throughout the compressor design world.
- In addition, CETI introduced a number of major innovations to design software, including the first blade design system based solely on Bezier polynomials, the first turbomachinery design system based fully on real fluid properties, and the TEIS (Two-Elements-In-Series) model for performance of compressors and pumps. These innovations have now been in use for more than twenty years.
- In an effort to gain greater fidelity to the design intent of ruled-surface impellers and to lower prototype costs, NREC developed MAX-5™, the first specialized turbomachinery CAM software to flank mill ruled-surface blading.
- Later in the decade, NREC extended their specialized CAM approach to point milling impellers and blisks with arbitrary blading – MAX-AB™. Subsequently, MAX-AB received “best-in-class” recognition from General Electric.
- McDonnell Douglas (MD) asked NREC to develop a ducted fan that must operate at high efficiency over a wide operating range for a new concept helicopter that operated with NO TAil Rotor (NOTAR). Eventually all MD commercial helicopters adopted the NOTAR approach.
- NREC received significant production contracts for its VAROC® Air Dynamometers from both the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Army.
- CETI combined its individual turbomachinery codes into the first release of the Agile Engineering Design System®.
- CETI undertook an important two-part stability study that focused on vaneless-diffuser pinch, as well as a consortium on return channel systems for pumps and compressors.
- CETI established a magnetic bearing test cell, leading to breakthroughs in seal development and other areas of rotating systems.
- In support of the ongoing effort at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, as well as with funding from the National Science Foundation, CETI won the first of a series of both Phase I and Phase II SBIRs on rocket turbopump inducers, and eventually achieved extremely high suction specific speed.
- Similar funding was won for a high-head hydrogen turbopump to further advance the Agile Engineering Design System and to develop brush seals.
- CETI developed the first version of the Agile suite of codes for application to axial turbomachinery.
- The Joint Army, Navy, NASA, Air Force (JANNAF) Interagency Propulsion Committee recognized the excellence of a CETI technical article as their “Best Paper.”
- CETI conducted an advanced technology development project for a major commercial pump company that showed the path to 90% efficiency.
- The ASME recognized CETI with the 1992 Potter Gold Medal for eminent achievement in the science of thermodynamics.
- NREC efforts focused on meeting the conflicting requirements of commerce and government to both increase power generation and reduce environmental impact (not surprisingly, those twin issues remain for the foreseeable future).
- For the conversion of a commuter aircraft to submarine reconnaissance service for the Japan Defense Agency, NREC developed an aircraft-engine-driven centrifugal compressor (EDC) to provide cooling for the abundant on-board electronics. The EDC performed well, and NREC manufactured a significant number of production units over more than a decade’s span before assigning future rights to the technology.
- NREC also developed an advanced torpedo ejection pump for the Seawolf submarine program, as well as newer submarines.
- NREC was contracted by the Naval Surface Warfare Center to convert shipboard chillers from ozone-depleting CFCs to a safer R-124 refrigerant.
- NREC designed a unique fish-friendly hydroelectric turbine that allowed the U.S. Department of the Interior to meet both ecological and hydropower demands.
- NREC teamed with commercial organizations to develop a turbo-alternator for the Chrysler Patriot hybrid gas-turbine race car.
- NREC began to apply its Turbogen small gas-turbine engines for use in industrial and commercial cogeneration systems.
- Sandia National Labs funded two 30KW Turbogen engines as part of a hybrid solar-dish Brayton-engine electric power system.
- As part of an advanced Turbogen engine, NREC developed an advanced high-temperature recuperator.
- Quiet fans, artificial heart pumps, and high-efficiency rerated compressors are among the other projects under taken by NREC and CETI during this decade.
2000 (June 1)
Concepts ETI acquired certain NREC assets from Ingersoll Rand. Significant effort was invested over the remainder of 2000 to integrate the activities and staffs of the two facilities (despite 120 miles of physical separation), as well as keep faith with clients of both organizations. The Woburn, MA, facility of the former NREC was named the Product Center in recognition of its production contracts and staff capabilities. The Wilder, VT, facility was recognized as headquarters for the combined organization as well as the Engineering and Software Development activities. In recognition of a common expertise, combined assets, and history, the new organization announced that it would do business as Concepts NREC (CN).
With increased resources, CN continued into the first decade of the 21st century as a leader in the development and application of technology for turbomachinery.
- Culminating an effort that began in the previous decade, CN released the first commercial software to model cooled turbine blading, Cooled Turbine Airfoil Agile Design System (CTAADS™).
- In further advancements of Agile software, CN developed more accurate methodologies for steam-turbine as well as aeroengine applications. CN software engineers also developed various knowledge-based design systems, including a system exclusively for rocket turbopumps.
- In recognition of the growing need to improve fuel efficiencies of internal-combustion engines, CN focused a decade long activity on turbocharger development, including a two-spool system and various advanced components.
- CN was awarded several patents on compressor and pump bleed and stability.
- Continuing to utilize the magnetic bearing test facility, CN engineers successfully measured the dynamic transfer function of various cavitating turbopumps.
- As part of the long-standing effort to utilize air dynamometers and lessen demand on water resources, CN engineers pioneered and developed an advanced air dynamometer with a supersonic vaneless diffuser, patented impeller, and a variable geometry inlet duct. In addition, CN developed a new torque measuring system for the air dynamometers.
- As a contribution to the search for alternative energy sources, CN designed the first robust hydrokinetic turbine.
- CN engineers developed an advanced-generation air-cycle refrigeration system.
- Among the highest honors accorded to engineers and in recognition of CN’s achievements, Dr. David Japikse received the 2008 SAE Cliff Garrett Turbomachinery and Applications Engineering Award and was recognized as “a distinguished authority in the engineering of turbomachinery for on-highway, off-highway, aircraft, and spacecraft uses.”
- CN accomplishments were recognized at the 2009 ASME IGTI Meeting with the “Best Technical Paper” award.