Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Airplane wings that change shape like a bird’s have scales like a fish

21.04.2004


To maximize a plane’s efficiency over a broader range of flight speeds, Penn State engineers have developed a concept for morphing airplane wings that change shape like a bird’s and are covered with a segmented outer skin like the scales of a fish.


Morphing HECS wing: showing the unmorphed and morphiged configurations. The wing tips are bent downwards to provide yaw control.(Courtsey: NASA Langley)



Dr. George Lesieutre, professor of aerospace engineering who leads the project, says, "Airplanes today are a design compromise. They have a fixed-wing structure that is not ideal for every part of a typical flight. Being able to change the shape of the wings to reduce drag and power, which vary with flight speed, could optimize fuel consumption so that commercial planes could fly more efficiently."

Morphing wings can also be useful for military defense and homeland security when applied to unmanned surveillance planes that need to fly quickly to a distant point, loiter at slow speed for a period of time and then return, Lesieutre explains. Flying efficiently at high speed requires small, perhaps, swept wings. Flying at slow speed for long periods requires long narrow wings. The morphing wings designed by the Penn State team can change both wing area and cross section shape to accommodate both slow and fast flight requirements.


Lesieutre and the wing design team will detail their concept in a paper, "Tendon Actuated Compliant Cellular Truss For Morphing Aircraft Structures," on Tuesday, April 20, at the 45th AIAA/ASME/ASCE/AHA/ASC Structures, Structural Dynamics and Materials Conference in Palm Springs, Calif. The authors are Lesieutre; Dr. Mary Frecker, associate professor of mechanical engineering; Deepak Ramrakhyani, doctoral candidate in aerospace engineering; and Smita Bharti, doctoral candidate in mechanical engineering.

The essential features of the Penn State concept are a small-scale, efficient compliant cellular truss structure, highly distributed tendon actuation and a segmented skin. The cellular truss structure is the skeleton of the wing. The skeleton is formed of repeating diamond-shaped units made from straight metal members connected at the angles with bendable or "compliant" shape memory alloys. Tendons in each unit, like the ropes that shape a tent, can pull the units into new configurations that will spring back, thanks to the shape memory alloys, when the tendon tension is released.

Since the underlying structure can undergo radical shape change, the overlaying skin of the wing must be able to change with it. Lesieutre says a concept that he thinks holds great promise is a segmented skin composed of overlapping plates, like the scales of a fish. He notes that conveyers on the baggage carousel in airports are composed of a similar pattern of plates.

So far, the design team has built a tabletop model of the compliant cellular truss structure and a computer graphic model of the wing structure.


The project is supported by grants from NASA and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

Barbara Hale | Penn State
Further information:
http://www.psu.edu/

More articles from Transportation and Logistics:

nachricht Tool helps cities to plan electric bus routes, and calculate the benefits
09.01.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht Realistic training for extreme flight conditions
28.12.2016 | Technical University of Munich (TUM)

All articles from Transportation and Logistics >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

Im Focus: Quantum-physical Model System

Computer-assisted methods aid Heidelberg physicists in reproducing experiment with ultracold atoms

Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...

Im Focus: Glacier bacteria’s contribution to carbon cycling

Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.

A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New quantum liquid crystals may play role in future of computers

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A promising target for kidney fibrosis

21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine

Light rays from a supernova bent by the curvature of space-time around a galaxy

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>