||Technology in Australia 1788-1988
Table of Contents
I Colonial Origins
II First World War
III Between The World Wars
IV The Second World War
V Post-second World War
i The United Kingdom Australia Agreement
ii The ADSS
iii Decline of Imported Work
iv Background Research and Development of the Department of Supply
v Technology in the Armed Services
VI After The Joint Project
VII Science And Decisions At The Top
VIII Armed Services Technology
IX New Tasks And Projects
X Transfer Of Research And Development
The Salisbury research laboratories, before incorporation into the Weapons Research Establishment, specialised in applications of the doppler radar techniques to aerial navigation for maritime reconnaissance, to propellant research and development related to the many projects for which rocket propulsion was required, and to high speed aerodynamic experiments, mostly in free flight. The main items of technological achievement of the Weapons Research Establishment, formed in 1955, have already been mentioned.
The work was a considerable stimulus to the physics research in both establishments. At MRL, solid state and dye lasers were developed; and a carbon dioxide laser was constructed. From 1967, L. E. S. Mathias was the leader, and innovations included construction of a 2 kilowatt continuous power laser, the first reported electron beam-controlled CO2 laser, the first atmospheric pressure laser, and the first using plasma injection. Much of the work was directed to laser-damage sensitivity of materials, and to laser safety.
The complementary work at WRE, under the leadership of F. F. Thonemann, was on the instrumental use of lasers. Several kinds were built, and experiments conducted on modulation, switching, and frequency multiplication. An early application was the development for the Division of National Mapping of an airborne system (WREMAPS) to measure ground profiles accurately. Later, using frequency doubling to obtain green light from a neodymium laser, they produced a more efficient system called WREMAPS II for the Royal Australian Survey Corps.
High Temperature Alloys
Powerful and efficient gas turbines make extreme demands on materials particularly for hot end components. High-temperature materials problems were acute, even in the Whittle era, where electric element and exhaust valve materials were the best available. Improvements in gas turbine performance have largely followed developments in the nickel and cobalt base alloys.
Australia, through the agency of the Aeronautical Research Laboratories (ARL) and the Defence Standards Laboratories (now Material Research Laboratories) declined this derivative material concept and, opted for an attempt to develop completely new alloy systems, using the best available basic knowledge of alloy developments at that time. The analysis by H. L. Wain and others suggested that binary alloys based on chromium, with additions of such metals as tantalum, tungsten, and molybdenum could enable the gas turbine operating temperatures to be increased considerably.
Since at that time chromium technology was limited to protective electroplating, methods had to be developed to produce and fabricate chromium and its alloys by melting, casting, extrusion, swaging and rolling into useful forms for test purposes. A great concern throughout this work was to develop adequate initial ductility in the chromium alloys and maintain it in service. Chromium, once classed as 'inherently brittle' was shown in the laboratories to be ductile if specific impurity levels and structure were controlled; similar characteristics were developed in chromium alloys. This was a major achievement of the program, even though ductility after service was never as high as engine designers would have liked. Demonstration alloys, the most successful of which contained 2 per cent Ta, 0.1 per cent Ti (to promote ductility) and 0.5 per cent Si (to improve oxidation resistance) were produced in Australia and, under licence in the USA. In Australia, a high temperature turbine was developed and fitted with 53 blades of the new alloy. The disc was forged by Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation, and the special blade blanks were manufactured by Australian National Industries. The blade system operated uncooled up to inlet gas temperatures of 1250°C, which was some 200°C in advance of the then operating systems.
Organisations in Australian Science at Work - Aeronautical Research Laboratories; Australia. Department of Supply; Australia. Division of National Mapping; Australian National Industries; Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (C.A.C.); Royal Australian Survey Corps; Weapons Research Establishment (W.R.E.)
People in Bright Sparcs - Mathias, L. E. S.; Thonemann, F. F; Wain, H. L.
© 1988 Print Edition page 949, Online Edition 2000
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher