Concepts NREC to Develop Secondary Flow System for US Air Force

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Concepts NREC will leverage its computer-aided engineering (CAE) turbomachinery design software as the basis for integrated cooling and critical secondary flow development.

AFWERX, a technology program of the U.S. Air Force, granted Concepts NREC a Direct-to-Phase II contract valued at $1,244,301. The company will develop an integrated cooling and secondary flow design system to address challenges within the Department of the Air Force (DAF).

“Analytical methods have advanced to the point where there’s less and less potential for further improvements in the primary flow path,” said Mark Anderson, Chief Technology Officer, Concepts NREC. “Future gains in the performance and reliability of turbomachinery will come from better design of secondary flows. We’re very excited to be working with the Air Force Research Laboratory and AFWERX to improve the state-of-the-art in turbomachinery design.”

To support U.S. National Security goals, Concepts NREC will introduce methods for the design, layout, and analysis of turbomachinery secondary flows under the guidance of aero-engine OEMs. Critical secondary flow systems will be designed and optimized to a maturity level similar to available primary flow paths. Concepts NREC will use its CAE turbomachinery design software as the basis for development and full integration. The end-product will be applicable to all turbomachinery classes and industries—both defense and non-defense.


AFWERX and the Air Force Research Laboratory are streamlining the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) by establishing faster proposal-to-award timelines. This expands the pool of potential applicants to include small businesses and removes bureaucratic overhead through continuous process improvements in contract execution. The DAF started the Open Topic SBIR/STTR program in 2018.

In May 2024, Concepts NREC and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) announced a collaboration to implement turbomachinery design, engineering, and analysis software tools into a new course titled “Advanced Manufacturing for Aerospace Engineers”, scheduled to debut fall 2024. The course is designed and will be taught by Dr. Zachary Cordero and Dr. Zoltán Spakovsky—it is a project-based subject that requires students to design, build, and test an electric turbopump for a notional rocket engine.

AEDS and ARMD software tools will be used by instructors and students to design and develop components of a single-spool dual-impeller turbopump for assembly into a fully-functional device. Through the labs’ iterative approach, students will apply concepts, principles, and processes with Concepts NREC’s software modeling tools, developing a complex, high-quality design with increased performance and precise modeling.

In April 2023, Concepts NREC entered a strategic partnership with Cadence Design Systems to focus on software development and sales in CAE for turbomachinery. The collaboration will involve the continued development of Fidelity/Agile, a software platform encompassing the entire design process for turbomachinery, including system/cycle design, preliminary sizing, fluid dynamics, and mechanical stress/vibration analysis. Both companies will provide training and customer support for the technology, which has already found applications in gas turbines, compressors, rocket engines, pumps, and turbochargers.

Also, in April of last year, Concepts NREC announced the latest release of its Agile Engineering Design System software suite for turbomachinery and computer-aided manufacturing applications. The updated CAE release features improved capabilities for designing multi-stage radial turbines using RITAL and AxCent modules. Additionally, a new cavitation model has been introduced to PUMPAL, along with a new design methodology based on suction-specific speed.