Aircraft systems in the environmental chamber

Jun 08, 2011
Fraunhofer IBP's flight test facility is about to be expanded with the addition of a thermal test bench for studying the thermal behavior of aircraft systems. Credit: © Fraunhofer IBP

How can air transport be made more environmentally compatible, economical and sustainable? The Fraunhofer flight test facility in Holzkirchen is soon to be expanded with the installation of a thermal test bench for aircraft systems, with the aim of achieving efficient energy management onboard.

The plane takes off from Munich in bright weather, temperature 10 degrees Celsius, and lands in Anchorage, Alaska, in driving snow, temperature minus 15. Parked on the airfield overnight, the aircraft takes off the next morning at a freezing minus 25 degrees, heading for Dubai, where the weather is a sunny 32 degrees. The temperature on the outside of the is over 80 degrees. The rapid changes in temperature pose a challenge for the technical systems and materials. How can it be ensured that the onboard equipment will function in all circumstances? Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics IBP in Holzkirchen near Munich are finding answers to this question in their facility. An additional piece of equipment – the thermal test bench – will help in the development of new systems such as the aircraft power supply, air conditioning and lighting. The project will be presented at the Paris Air Show in Le Bourget from June 20 to 26.

"The thermal test bench comprises a number of different elements, but the main one is the aircraft calorimeter, which is integrated into the low-pressure chamber of our flight test facility," explains project manager Dr.-Ing. Gunnar Grün from Fraunhofer IBP. "We can simulate environmental conditions inside the aircraft, as well as external conditions on the ground or in flight, and see how the equipment copes." The scientists hope to obtain fundamental insights into the effect of ambient temperature on the thermal behavior of aircraft systems. They will also study the interplay between components, materials and ambient temperature, particularly in the context of more electric architecture on aircraft. Three metal and fiber-composite fuselage sections of a Dassault business jet will be used to study the interplay of new electric systems and aircraft parts in different conditions. "For reasons of space, large electrical components are accommodated in the rear, while other systems are located in the cockpit," says Grün. "With the thermal test bench we will be able to show how the waste heat from the lights, the power electronics or the inflight entertainment impacts on the environment in the aircraft interior – and vice versa." This will enable the research scientists to draw conclusions about how the systems should be arranged and how the waste heat can be efficiently removed or reused. "Imagine you want to use a laptop in the sauna. It has to release heat in order to function. At the high temperatures the built-in fan no longer does the job and so you have to find a different solution, for example heat conduction," the specialist continues. The test facility is part of the Clean Sky project, in which Fraunhofer IBP, European companies and other research establishments are studying the interplay of thermal and electrical systems.

To complement this research and obtain a comprehensive picture of the energy balance in aircraft, an electrical test bench is also being built under the Clean Sky project, by aircraft engine manufacturer Safran in Paris. "At present there is a mix of electric, pneumatic and hydraulic systems in airplanes which require extensive maintenance and cleaning. Some of the fluids used damage the environment. The aim for the future is to increasingly use electric systems in , saving weight and aviation kerosene. Electric systems are also more efficient," states Grün, describing the background to the project. To achieve these aims, research scientists will have to find answers to a lot of questions. For example, whether the onboard power system will remain stable under an increased electric load. "Imagine what would happen at home if you plugged ten hairdryers into the same power socket and switched them all on at the same time: the fuse is certain to blow," Grün explains.

Explore further: LiquidPiston unveils quiet X Mini engine prototype

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Energy-autonomous sensors for aircraft

Oct 01, 2009

Aircraft maintenance will be easier in future, with sensors monitoring the aircraft skin. If they discover any dents or cracks they will send a radio message to a monitoring unit. The energy needed for this ...

European Union eyes better small aircraft

Feb 05, 2007

A $548,000 (280,000 pound) grant to engineers at Britain's University of Manchester could lead to cheaper, lighter and "greener" small passenger aircraft.

Micro aircraft IMPULLS improves avionic systems and sensors

Apr 06, 2011

Myriad sensors and systems provide modern aircraft with data for flight control. But a bird's eye perspective is also of great benefit when measuring pollutants, searching for missing persons and even in archaeological ...

The new sky

May 10, 2010

Less noise, less exhaust, less refuse -- air travel of the future is expected to be quieter, cleaner and more environmentally friendly. To achieve this goal, new structural concepts and aerodynamic profiles ...

Recommended for you

LiquidPiston unveils quiet X Mini engine prototype

9 hours ago

LiquidPiston has a new X Mini engine which is a small 70 cubic centimeter gasoline powered "prototype. This is a quiet, four-stroke engine with near-zero vibration. The company said it can bring improvements ...

Novel robotic walker helps patients regain natural gait

14 hours ago

Survivors of stroke or other neurological conditions such as spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries and Parkinson's disease often struggle with mobility. To regain their motor functions, these patients ...

Tomorrow's degradable electronics

Nov 20, 2014

When the FM frequencies are removed in Norway in 2017, all old-fashioned radios will become obsolete, leaving the biggest collection of redundant electronics ever seen – a mountain of waste weighing something ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.