C. William Kauffman Ph.D.
Retired University of Michigan Professor of Aerospace Engineering
C. W. “Bill” Kauffman was a Professor of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Michigan where he specialized in gas dynamics and propulsion. Since junior high school, when he discovered that he could propel cone top beer cans containing several stones of carbide and several drops of water over the roof of his house, he has been interested in explosions.
The research of his undergraduate advisor was of great interest to the field of rocket propulsion, and lead to an early industry position where the task was to determine the cause of malfunctions during intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test flights. His PhD research at Michigan, funded by NASA concerned combustion instabilities or two phase detonations which were occurring in the Rocketdyne F-1 engine, which was to be employed on the Saturn V rocket.
_These results were later applied to develop fuel air explosives, for military purposes (sometimes referred to as the poor man's atom bomb). These were used for this such as clearing a helicopter landing site in the middle of a jungle in Vietnam.
_The same technology had civilian application since it was related very closely to the mixed dust explosions which occurred in coal mines and grain elevators. A rigorous program of investigations lead to legislation that
virtually eliminated this industrial hazard in the United States.
_The same type of explosion are still occurring in China and other less well regulated economies (there have been three such explosions in Chinese factories making parts for Apple computer products in the last year).
_As the Soviets were well known for their explosion expertise, contacts were initiated nearly forty years ago, leading to numerous technical interactions and visits to Russia. Bill even lived in Russia for a year after the break up of the Soviet Union as part of the U.S. efforts to keep Russian weapons experts from leaving and taking their expertise to rogue countries. This
exposed Bill to many American military and national security personnel and gave him a keen sense of how important it was to keep our technology secrets during the cold war.
The experience in Russia gave Bill opportunities to study various aspects of flight and flight vehicles. This combination of explosions and aviation resulted in his being the first runner up for the 1984 vacancy on the National Transportation Safety Board, a frequent press source for aviation disasters, and being selected for Federal Aviation Administration work to prevent fuel vapor explosions aboard aircraft (A fuel tank explosion had brought down a 747 jet).
In the 2004-2005 academic year, at the request of the students and with the beginning of the Iraq war, Bill reinstituted a two semester course concerning explosions, explosives, propellants, and pyrotechnics.
Bill's experience in national security matters lead him to have concerns in the early 2000's that the rapid influx of foreign students and visiting scientists (a majority from China) was leading to a looting of American industrial and military technology, which would then be used by their home countries to threaten America's economic and military security. Bill expressed these concerns to a University administration that did not want to hear them and eventually lead to such harassment that he had to retire from the university.
Professor Kauffman threatened for sending an email
questionnaire to finalists for his department head.
Trident Sea Launched Ballistic Missile episode.
New Courses Introduced at UM
_Professor Kauffman has several visiting Chinese scientists during the 1990's that came to study industrial dust explosions, however, when they went back to China they went to work on weapons for the Chinese military instead of on
safety programs. The types of explosions that occurred at the suppliers for Apple in China are completely preventable.
Gas explosion kills 11 coal miners in southwestern China
China's mines suffer frequent explosions, floods and cave-ins, although miner fatalities have fallen about one-third from a high of nearly 7,000 in 2002. READ MORE
In 1979 because of Jimmy Carter the first wave of the Chinese invasion arrived at the UM Campus in Ann Arbor. The PRC was failing and President Carter decided to save Communist China and prevent a huge refuge crisis by teaching humanitarian skills to Chinese university professors who would return home and save their nation. During the next decade I had in my laboratory about a dozen such individuals learning the science and engineering of explosives and explosions in order to prevent industrial disasters from occurring in the mines and factories of their homeland. I even spent forty days there in 1987 delivering the same message...your rice elevators and packaging plants need not explode. Instead they returned home in order to develop weapon systems, fuel and explosives and supersonic combustion ramjets, instead. Their mines still explode on a monthly basis. One individual did remain in the US bringing her family in the search of a better life while contributing to our nation.
A very current comparison can be made which all media seems to want to avoid making as well as our Federal government. While I was enrolled as a graduate student in Aero Eng at the UM, 1965-1971, I had as classmates in my classes many Iranian students, the Shah was their leader, and they were also recipients of the new Grumman F-14 aircraft. In our classes we learned about the enrichment of uranium by gaseous diffusion or gravity gradients and the creation of high density solids by shock wave implosion. Both skills are necessary in order to construct an atomic bomb, but of differing types. Today we hear of the Iranian nuclear threat because of someone providing them with the technology. There is no mention of some of these folks being trained at the University of Michigan in the United States of America.
Academe has been the biggest proliferator of the technology of WMD's in the world. It is simply good business sense for these institutions of higher learning to market our national assets.
C. William Kauffman
Professor, Retired, Department of Aerospace Engineering,
University of Michigan
President, Explosion Research and
Paid for with regulated funds by Professor Kauffman for Regent
P.O.Box 223 Whitmore Lake, MI 48189