MARCH 12, 2002 

MARCH 12, 2002


Background Information

            Drawing on scientific talent and research expertise from the University of Arizona, and the growing technology base of Tucson, Advanced Ceramics Research, Inc. was founded in 1989 to meet the increasing need for more economical high temperature, wear resistant components for aerospace and defense applications.

            The company's first revenues came from the U.S. Government's SBIR program and $1,000 in start-up capital.  In its first six months, ACR secured a Phase II SBIR contract for $500,000 from the U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center, contract #N60921-90-C-0033.  From this starting point over the last 12 years, the company has performed nearly $6 million in SBIR work.   The SBIR funding has led to additional awards totaling $11.7 million in related government purchases and follow-up programs, mostly from the Office of Naval Research, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and the Department of Energy.   ACR has generated an additional $17.5 million in commercial sales, and over $35 million (projected over the next 9 years) in signed license and technology transfer contracts, with over $2.5 million paid to date.   At ACR, SBIR revenues have been leveraged 5:1 by commercial sales, and as the company's commercialization continues to grow that ratio will continue to widen.  Major accomplishments for ACR include:

                 Inc. 500 list for 1998

                 R&D 100 award for 1999 and 2001

                 AZ-TECH 50 from 1995-1998, Fastest 50 growing Arizona Hi-Tech companies

                 Top Ten High-Tech business practice company for Arizona, 1997-2001

                 SBA-White House Tibbets Award 1996

                 Arizona Innovator of the Year Award, Physical Sciences, 1996

                 Department of Defense Commercial Optimization Index (COI) of perfect 100, two years in a row.

                 New $3 million company owned facility 1998.

On July 17, 2001, Advanced Ceramics Research, Inc. (ACR) signed an agreement with the San Xavier Development Authority of the Native American Tohono O'odham Tribe of Southern Arizona to bring high technology research and manufacturing to the reservation. The San Xavier Development Authority has purchased a 51% stake of Advanced Ceramics Manufacturing, LLC, (ACM) for $2 million.   ACM is subsidiary of ACR for the ceramic component manufacturing and supporting research development. ACM is now the first Native American owned small high tech business that incorporates cutting edge research and production.  ACM's focus is on producing new high tech ceramics for applications in missile defense programs, tactical missile, aircraft turbine engines, mining wear components, and medical equipment applications.  Under currently funded DoD SBIR research contracts ACM is already working on the development of new materials for deep ground penetrators and development of a new class of ceramic capacitors for electronics to enhance national missile defense.

ACR is the managing partner of ACM until ACM fully develops its work staff.  ACR has established a very credible reputation with numerous federal agencies including: Navy; DARPA; BMDO; Army; Air Force; DOE; NASA; and NSF.  In addition, ACR has strong relations with numerous fortune 500 companies including: Raytheon; Caterpillar; IBM; Lockheed Martin; Phelps Dodge; Kyocera; Smith Bits; BF Goodrich; and Boeing.   ACM will benefit greatly from the already established business ties with the above organizations.

         This historic joint venture with ACR, places the Tohono O'odham Tribe at the forefront in the ability to manufacture High-Tech products used in aerospace and military applications.  Establishing a high tech manufacturing company on the reservation is a win-win situation for both the tribe and ACR.  The venture is really a partnership between the Federal Government, its prime contractors, and the Tohono O'odham Tribe.  This partnership will provide volume production of high value ceramic composite components used in aerospace and defense applications.  ACR's role is to utilize its innovative technologies as a catalyst to initiate and develop this historic venture.  ACM's current staff includes Mrs. Marlene Platero-Allrunner who has a B.S. from MIT and a M.S. from Stanford, both degrees are in Ceramic Engineering.

Since the early days of the company ACR has teamed with University researchers to help develop cutting edge technologies, and to then commercialize these technologies by partnering with large fortune 500 companies.  ACR continues to follow this research strategy by continuing to work with Universities.  The University of Michigan made important contributions to the development of fibrous monolith ceramic composites.  ACR continues to work with the University of Delaware on composite materials.  The University of California Santa Barbara and the University of Arizona are joining ACR's current program developing wear resistant components for the mining industry.  ACR is also working with Michigan Technological University on processing technology for mining and excavation tools.   ACR has also worked with a variety of other Universities across the United States including, Stanford University, the University of New Orleans, the University of Delaware, North Carolina State University, Carnegie-Mellon University and Rutgers University.  

ACR's collaborative research activities have not been restricted to the Navy and academia.  ACR also works closely with government-sponsored laboratories.  ACR currently has a CRADA with the Army Research Laboratory in Aberdeen, MD.  This CRADA with ARL focuses development efforts on high temperature consolidation of ceramics.  ACR has also worked with the Wright-Patterson Air Force Research Laboratory.  Outside of the Department of Defense, ACR collaborates with two Department of Energy National Labs, Argonne in Illinois and Oak Ridge in Tennessee.  

NAVY CONTRACT # N60921-90-C-0033

            In February 1990 ACR was awarded its first Phase II SBIR program from the Naval Surface Warfare Center to develop high temperature materials for leading edges for hypersonic vehicles.  ACR partnered with the University of Utah on this program.  This program established ACR as a developer of advanced high temperature ceramic composite materials.  The program was followed up with a series of NASA SBIR programs that led to actual flight tests on the McDonnell Douglas Delta Clipper DC-XA.  Processing technology for ultra hard ceramic powders developed in this program have also created ACR's "Lab mill" product line.  The product line is sold through Cole Palmer Catalog Company.  Total sales to date are over $250,000 with annual sales now at $100,000 per year, and growing approximately 15% per year.


            Work performed on ACR's first Navy SBIR program helped the company to secure a joint ONR and DARPA funded program for the development of Fibrous Monolith ceramics. ACR teamed as a subcontractor with the University of Michigan to scale-up production of fibrous monoliths, and to develop prototype components for testing. Turbine motor combustor plate components were fabricated and successfully tested.  This work led to the development and testing of F-14 fighter engine afterburner components.  Now work is being carried out for a wide variety of turbine engine nozzle components.  The technology led to a follow on DARPA/DOE program for oil and gas drilling and two Navy SBIR programs which have been responsible for ACR signing contracts projected at $35 million for license and technology transfer fees over the next nine years.  ACR has just recently been awarded a $4.7 million 50% cost share program from the DOE to implement fibrous monolith technology in the mining industry.                     

NAVY CONTRACT #N00174-99-C-0040

            This Phase I SBIR program was awarded from the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Indian Head, for the development of fibrous monolith concrete cutting tools.  Technology developed in the Phase I program directly resulted in a $400,000 up front technology transfer fee for cutting tool applications.  Technology developed in this program has the opportunity of revolutionizing a cutting tool market in excess of $1 billion in annual sales.

NAVY CONTRACT #N0014-00-C-0387

            ACR is partnering with Advanced Ceramics Manufacturing, the first high technology development and manufacturing facility owned by Native Americans.  This program was recently awarded by the Office of Naval Research to produce new generation of fibrous monolith materials capable of withstanding temperatures in the 6000F range for applications in missile defense.   The effort is to develop innovative, rapid and low-cost manufacturing techniques to produce critical high temperature composites for propulsion related components such as hot gas valves and thrusters on the Navy's Solid Divert Attitude Control System (SDACS) for Theater Missile Defense (TMD).  The success of this research effort will result in the fabrication of hot gas valve components with shorter lead times and significantly costs as much as an order of magnitude less then the Rhenium (Re) metal components currently being fabricated for SDACS. We believe that the technology developed in this program has the potential to save the Navy $300 to $600 million for it's Theater Ballistic Missile Defense Program.

NAVY CONTRACT # N68335-01-C-005

            In partnership with the University of Delaware this Phase I SBIR program was recently awarded by the Naval Air Warfare Center to develop low cost tooling for composite component manufacturing for the Joint Strike Fighter.  ACR has already won an R&D 100 Award for this technology and is receiving significant commercial sales of its first generation product. This program has developed ACR's Water Soluble Support material with fillers added to it for use as rocket motor casing Mandrels, fuel cell structures, air ducting, water bomb casing mandrels, airfoil sections, fuel inlet sections, yacht bait well sections, and a number of other applications. ACR believes that this material system can also be used in a variety of consumer products manufactured from standard fiberglass such as bath tubs, showers, aircraft seats, bus seats, etc.  In addition, to Navy needs for fighter aircraft, numerous applications have been identified in other military systems and the commercial sector.  Customers include Lockheed, Alliant Tech, Boeing, Cabo Yachts, BF Goodrich, Ferrari Automotive, and Cardio West who manufactures artificial hearts.  The Aquacore and Aquacast products developed in this program are recipients of the 2001 R&D 100 award.

NAVY CONTRACT # N00014-01-M-0208

This program started in July 2001 and is focused on developing a new very low cost Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) called the Smart Warfighter Array of Reconfigurable Modules (SWARM) for locating and detecting marine mammals in the ocean.  The SWARM is a small lightweight expendable UAV which cost less than $2,000 each, flies autonomously for 24 hours, has a 1500 nautical mile range at 60 knots, and will run on JP-5 fuel.  The primary function of the SWARM vehicle is to provide very low cost aerial flight surveillance imaging for 24-hour periods with up to 1500mile range, while not requiring extensive operator training and or ground support operations.  The vehicle is designed to carry sensor payload packages weighing up to 4 lbs and with power consumption of 25 watts or less.

In this program ACR has teamed with the University of Arizona to integrate off the shelf miniature GPS computer navigations control systems such as the Piccolo system offered by Cloud Cap Technology, Corporation, for flight control of the SWARM.  We are also looking at application of intelligent software, such as produced by Quantum Leap, Inc., for management of cooperative collective mission behavior of large numbers of SWARMs flown to perform changeable and adaptable missions.

            Initial market opportunities lie in assisting a multitude of various military operations in the War against Terrorism.  Below are graphics illustrating the use of SWARM for surface to air missile (SAM) site continuous monitoring.  There is no current cost effecting method to perform this function for extended periods of time. Below are still images taken from digital video transmitted from a SWARM vehicle while in flight.

The SWARM vehicles incorporate a fully modular system component design for interchangeable "plug-n-play" operation.  The figure below is a photograph of a SWARM vehicle.

The SWARM is of a unique (to the drone industry) modular design to allow for easy interchangeability of wings, motor power modules, control system modules, and mission payload modules.  Two nylon bolts are used to secure the modules together when they are plugged into each other.  Four nylon bolts hold the wing on to a cradle attached to the payload module. Below are photographs of actual system modules.

            The modular components are manufactured from fiberglass.  The SWARM uses a folding wing design, which allows for a large selection of different wingspan for different missions.  The folding concept allows for longer wingspan wings to be stored in containers, which are the same length as the other components. 

The ability to easily change wings makes it very simple to interchange SWARM mission capabilities to allow for flight programs of different cruise speeds, take-off speeds, landing speeds, and carry heavy or lighter payloads.  Since flight duration is based on fuel consumption rate, a larger wing will fly slower giving a higher payload capability but shorter range.  For some flight missions a user may want to fly slower for a longer period of time, so with a bigger wing swarm will fly slower but be able to carry more fuel so it can fly longer.  For example, instead of 60 mph for 24 hours, a user may prefer 40 mph for 30 hours.

Other Applications

            Other commercial markets are tremendous and include the Coast Guard, Boarder Patrol, Search and Rescue, National Parks Service for fire fighting, animal researchers for tracking in remote locations, aircraft based traffic congestion reporting services, fisheries, aircraft based real estate photography providers, commercial shipping, beach patrol operations for sharks, and organizations with needs to do monitoring of remote sights such as oil and gas pipe lines.  Our first commercial application is for locating marine mammals such as porpoises and whales for the Navy.  In this application the Navy has a need to know if there are any marine mammals in a given area wherein they may plan on performing specialized underwater sonar testing.  This application is directly applicable for monitoring whale for protection purposes by special interest groups.  The graphics below illustrate this application.  Also shown below are illustrations of SWARM applied to critical Coast Guard operations.  

NAVY CONTRACT #s N41756-02-M-2026 and N41756-02-M-2037

            These two programs have just recently been funded by the Naval Surface Weapons Center, Carder Rock, for the development of high efficiency ceramic diesel engines for SWARM applications.  The designs under development in these programs are scalable to larger conventional drone sizes.  The ceramics reduce the need for lubrication oil in the fuel and increase the operational temperature in the combustion chambers for more efficiency.  In addition, this technology when combined with high temperature polymer materials such as reinforced PEEK offers the opportunity to eliminate metal from the engine to improve detection avoidance and reduce weight.

NAVY CONTRACT # N00014-00-C-0329

          This Phase II STTR program was awarded by the Office of Naval Research and combines a number of various technologies developed at the University of Arizona and ACR in order to produce a new generation of artificial bone.  The program concept is to allow automated generation of an artificial bone segment from CAT scanned image files, which can then be directly implanted into the body.  Existing bone material would then grow into the artificial component as the body degrades that artificial segment, thus leaving only natural bone.  This program is focusing on proving out the technology with medical companies and achieving eventual FDA approval.


In cooperation with AlliedSignal and Rutgers University under funding from the Office of Naval Research and DARPA, ACR has developed and patented its Water Soluble Support (WSS) material. ACR's WSS material can be processed using conventional plastics processing techniques such as injection molding, laminating, or any other standard thermal processing methods.  The technology trade named Aqua port developed in this program won an R&D 100 award in 1999, and has been commercialized by Stratasys Corporation.  Stratasys purchased an exclusive license to use WSS for rapid prototyping for $400,000 and continuing royalties.   This program provided the science base for ACR's low cost water-soluble tooling program.


On this program, ACR, University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB), and Catapillar Inc. are partnering to develop novel ceramic composite systems with high strengths and fracture toughness for armor applications.  This effort combined our Fibrous Monolith (FM) composite processing and Rapid Prototyping (RP) expertise with UCSB's computational modeling, composite design and mechanical testing expertise to develop a new generation of low-cost high-threshold-strength and damage tolerant ceramic-matrix composites.  These composites have a variety of potential applications including armor for vehicle protection, wear resistant coatings on machine tool inserts for metal cutting, and wear resistant coatings on dozer blades, dozer teeth and grader blade components used on earth moving equipment.  The results of this project suggest that the alumina/mullite FM laminate composites have potential for armor applications.  Ballistic testing performed at the Army Research Laboratory, Aberdeen, MD indicate these alumina based FM composites out perform monolithic alumina.  On the commercial side, Catapiller Inc. has considerable interest in these composites and has agreed to test all promising materials developed on this program for earth moving equipment components.


In partnership with the University of Arizona, Southwest Research Institute and Northrop Grumman Corporation, this phase II SBIR program fabricates metallic foams with improved mechanical properties such as energy absorption and specific stiffness through ACR's patented extrusion freeform fabrication (EFF) techniques. A major application of this material would be for the Army's lighter, more mobile Future Combat Systems (FCS), to provide the ability to put a combat-capable brigade anywhere in the world within 96 hours, a full division in 120 hours, and five divisions on the ground within 30 days. For defense applications, ACR is teamed with Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and United Defense to produce metallic foam components such as antenna masts and fins, wings as well as electronic chassis components.  On the commercial side, ACR will fabricate ribbed heat diffusers for state of the art lighting fixtures.  The application of aluminum foam components would be in the areas of heat sinks for electronic components, heat exchangers, heat shielding, energy absorption, battery plates and spacers, aircraft wing structures, silencer for jet engine intakes, aircraft armor, ablative sealing for compressor/turbine blades, to name a few.


Advanced Ceramics Manufacturing (ACM) will develop tungsten-based Fibrous Monolith (FM) composites for kinetic penetrator applications on an Air Force sponsored SBIR Phase II (Air Force Research Laboratory, Eglin Air Force Base, FL).  There is a strong move to replace depleted uranium with tungsten alloys for environmental reasons.  However, tungsten alloys penetration performance does not compare to the adiabatic shear mechanisms that lead to self-sharpening of depleted uranium.  Tungsten itself is inherently resistant to adiabatic shearing therefore exhibiting mushrooming effects upon impact.  Incorporation of tungsten and weaker/ductile metals into the FM macrostructure will allow tungsten to be an effect replacement for depleted uranium.  Newly developed tungsten FM composites will be engineered to exhibit localized, unstable shear failure and promote self-sharpening properties during penetration.  The FM laminate structure allows shearing mechanisms to be built into the tungsten-based composite by combining heavy tungsten alloy materials with weaker but structurally sound interface materials such as cemented carbides and high strength steel alloys.  Similar to traditional composites, ACM can engineer FM composites to promote and enhance depth penetration.  The FM processing technique is robust, uses low-cost materials and environmentally friendly. Preliminary research in the Phase I has supplemented development efforts of metal-based composites in the mining and drilling as well as cutting tool industries.

ACR Corporate Citizenship

ACR is also very active in supporting community outreach programs.  This includes a fruitful engineering internship program with local Universities and Colleges.  ACR also supports the University of Arizona's Summer Engineering Academy.  Over the last few years ACR has hosted hundreds of High School Students in its facilities to encourage our young citizens to pursue technical careers.  Staff members are also active in numerous local and national non-profit boards and professional associations.

Anthony C. Mulligan, President/CEO
Advanced Ceramics Research, Inc.
Before the House Armed Subcommittee
On Military Research and Development
March 12, 2002

Dear Mr. Chairman and Members of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Research and Development.  My name is Anthony C. Mulligan.  I am the CEO and one of the founders of Advanced Ceramics Research, Inc. of Tucson, Arizona.  I would like to thank you for the opportunity to testify here today on the technologies developed by Advanced Ceramics Research, Inc. which can offer a significant contribution to the Department of Defense counter-terrorism efforts.

Advanced Ceramics Research, Inc. (ACR) is a small successful high-tech company founded as a spin-off of the University of Arizona in 1989.  As of 2001, the company has performed $6 million in SBIR research work, mostly with the Department of Defense, with additional awards totaling nearly $12 million in related government purchases and follow-up programs from the Office of Naval Research, The Defense Advanced Project Agency and the Department of Energy.  ACR has generated an additional $17.5 million to date in commercial sales and is projected to receive over $35 million in license and technology transfer contracts with over $2.5 million paid to date.

Major accomplishments for ACR include:

       Inc. 500 list for 1998

       R&D 100 Award in 1999 and 2001

       Top Ten High-Tech business practice company for Arizona, 1997-2001

       SBA Tibbets Award for 1996

       Arizona Innovator of the year Award, Physical Sciences, 1996

       Department of Defense Commercial Optimization Index (COI) of perfect 100, 2 years in a row.

       A new 3 million dollar company owned facility in 1998

ACR also owns a 49% stake of the Advanced Ceramics Manufacturing (ACM), a Native American owned corporation.  ACM is a ceramic component-manufacturing arm for ACR.  ACM will be located in the San Xavier Development Park on the Tohono O'odham Reservation near Southern Tucson.

ACR has been developing several technologies that may provide a contribution to counter-terrorism efforts.  The first is ACR's Fibrous Monolith (FM) technology.  Initially seeded with DARPA and ONR funding in the early 1990's, ACR and the University of Michigan have developed a new composite material system called Fibrous Monolith.  Fibrous Monolith has already demonstrated significant commercialization in the oil and gas drilling industry.  ACR's collaboration partner, Smith Bits of Houston, Texas, one of the world's largest oil and drill bit manufacturers, had demonstrated nearly a 3 to 1 oil drilling performance increase utilizing ACR's Fibrous Monolith technology as compared to state-of-the-art diamond coated drill bits.  ACR has also started a joint commercialization program with Kyocera Corporation for developing the application of Fibrous Monolith technology for industrial cutting tools. 

Over the years, ACR has been developing the fibrous monolith technology for application with high temperature turbine engine components such as flame holders and flap and seal components on fighter aircraft engines and for the replacement of rhenium alloys for rocket motor control technologies such as used in divert attitude and control system thrusters in the National Missile Defense Program.  We believe that the application of this technology in these areas alone can save the Department of Defense nearly one billion dollars over the next 10 years.  With our Native American partner, ACM, we are now working on an Air Force program to utilize fibrous monolith technology for a new generation of deep earth penetrators.  We also believe that this technology has the opportunity to be a replacement for depleted uranium penetrators.  We believe that future applications of fibrous monolith technology combined with dissimilar metals technology as commonly used in water filtration offers the opportunity of developing a new generation of wearable fabric which would be resistant to chemical and biological warfare combatants such as Anthrax.  This would also offer opportunities for new generation materials for medical bandaging, water filtration for drinking purposes, to a safer sanitary towel used in kitchens.

Under Navy funding, ACR has also been working on the development of a new low-cost drone called the Smart War fighter Array of Reconfigurable Modules (SWARM).  The SWARM is a small lightweight expandable UAV, which costs ACR two thousand dollars each, flies autonomously for 24 hours, has a 1,500 nautical range at 60 knots, and will run on JP5 fuel.  The primary function of the SWARM vehicle is to provide very low-cost aerial flight surveillance imaging for 24 hour periods with a 1500 mile range while not requiring extensive operator training and/or ground support operations.  The vehicle is designed to carry sensor payload packages weighing up to 4 lbs and with power consumption of 25 watts or less.  The principle feature of the SWARM concept is to produce high volumes of very low-cost drones as compared to low volumes of very high-cost drones.  A second feature of the SWARM concept is that one operator will be able to operate 10 or more drones as compared to current technology, which requires 10 to 20 operators to operate one drone.  The low-cost nature of the SWARM UAV's allows for implementation of smart collective behavior programming.  As an example, if 300 SWARM drone units were programmed to perform a mission and 25 of these units were shot down, then the remaining 275 drones would reconfigure so that they could fulfill the mission.  The initial SWARM prototypes have already performed numerous test flights in South Arizona and just last week off the Kohala coast of Hawaii.  The SWARM is currently funded by the NAVY for development to perform low cost detection of marine mammals in the ocean.  Last week, the first test trials for this function were performed.  Because of its small size, the SWARM is also ideal for application of several new technologies to enhance its performance.  These include high efficiency ceramic motors, non-metallic mufflers, and ceramic/polymer hybrid high efficiency propellers.  These new technologies have direct application opportunities for current more costly UAV systems.

A third technology that ACR has been working on which can assist our ground troops is Metal Foam Materials.  Under Army funding ACR has been developing aluminum and stainless steel metal forms. These materials may provide a major advantage when used in the Army's lighter more mobile future combat systems (FCS), which will enhance the ability to put a combat capable brigade anywhere in the world within 96 hours.  Metal foam materials offer very high-energy absorption and very high specific stiffness as compared to their solid metal analogs.  Metal foams also offer a large weight reduction.

Under Navy funding, ACR has also been developing a new class of water soluble and low-cost disposable tooling for the manufacture of complex shaped composite parts.  This material system is marketed as the AquacoreT product line and was recently awarded an R&D 100 Award in 2001.  The AquacoreT technology allows for the manufacture of complex shaped parts while eliminating the need to use expensive metal tooling or salt tooling which generates hazardous wastes, yet it costs significantly less than these currently used processes.  Using AquacoreT allows for the production of a single component, which previously would have required several components to be glued, bolted or fastened together.  Applications vary from the production of a low-cost complex ductwork and intricate composite missile casings, to aerospace components and marine components, including torpedo casings for underwater mines, to more commercial applications such as producing a fiberglass boat or new generation Navy composite rudder.

Thank you for your time and the opportunity to testify here today.

House Armed Services Committee
2120 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515