Supersonic Institute (since 2010) is an R&D organization focusing on aerodynamic tunneling as the basis of high-efficiency, quiet supersonic transport. In the concept of aerodynamic tunneling, cargo or people are transported in a vehicle from a terrestrial point A to B via a closed tube containing an atmosphere more aerodynamically favorable than air. While the Mach number inside the tube will be below unity, a vehicle can arrive at point B ahead of its sound in air outside the tube and is therefore supersonic.
The activities of Supersonic Institute include dissemination of original research as conference presentations, journal articles, and technical reports. Research methods, focusing on the supersonic hydrogen-tube vehicle, utilize the tools of applied mathematics, statistics, and computer modeling. Work is in progress on building a small, experimental prototype and the results will be analyzed by statistical methods.
Our work builds on the long-term success (since 1996) of our sister organization,Fuelcell Propulsion Institute, which laid the foundations of currently developed fuelcell railway locomotives.
Creation of the Supersonic Institute was inspired by the challenges of air travel: such as security, weather, flight delays, and the price of oil. A hydrogen tube vehicle concept was developed and SI was founded as an organization to realize that concept.
Hydrogen is an energy carrier like electricity: It is manufactured, clean, and efficient. Hydrogen, moreover, plays a central and novel role in a new concept in transportation, the supersonic tube vehicle. To compare 24 common gases as potential atmospheres for aerodynamic tunneling, an equation is derived for gas efficacy, a function of the first power of the speed of sound and an inverse function of the first power of friction drag on an idealized flat plate. The higher the efficacy, the more the gas increases the Mach 1 speed or reduces drag. Hydrogen has the highest gas efficacy.
Until 1998, Dr. Miller was a research professor at research universities, including the University of Illinois. Prof. Miller published numerous papers in refereed journals such as the Journal of the American Chemical Society. From 1994 to 1998, he was founding Director of the Joint Center for Fuel-Cell Vehicles at Colorado School of Mines.
His first company, the research-focused nonprofit Fuelcell Propulsion Institute, has been in operation since 1996. Vehicle Projects Inc, founded in 1998, develops large prototype fuelcell vehicles such as the 130-tonne locomotive that is presently the largest fuelcell land vehicle. In 2010, he formed Supersonic Institute, which engages in education and research on supersonic transport and hydrogen. Dr. Miller holds a PhD degree in chemistry and MS degree in applied mathematics, both from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.