Smart helicopter thanks to active rotor blades

Mar 06, 2013

Active systems in helicopter rotor blades can adapt the blades' aerodynamic properties to local airflow conditions. The use of such systems leads to lower fuel consumption, increased maximum speed and reduced noise and vibration. A French PhD researcher at the University of Twente, Alexandre Paternoster, has developed a method for implementing these innovative systems, thereby bringing the smart helicopter one step closer.

Dr Paternoster's research is part of the European "Clean Sky" Joint Undertaking, which aims to increase the efficiency of air transport. The researchers involved in this Joint Undertaking are currently focusing mainly on active flap systems in blades. The integration of these systems is no easy matter, given the enormous forces generated by rotor blade rotation, and the durability and reliability requirements involved. Using software simulations and a wind tunnel, Alexandre Paternoster examined the selection process for these actuators and determined the optimal design for such systems. His aim was to make them easier to integrate.

Dr Paternoster concluded that mechanisms based on are capable of meeting these requirements. He feels that the devices best suited for use in are the d33 patch actuators from Physik Instrumente.

Gurney flap

Of all the active rotor systems currently under development, the Active Gurney Flap has been selected in the framework of the Clean Sky Joint Undertaking's Green Integrated Technology Demonstrator. Extending the Gurney flap during the return movement of the rotor blade improves the blade's lift and overall performance. This technology is already in an advanced stage of development. Alexandre Paternoster's goal was to find the most efficient design for a Gurney Flap. In addition to taking account of the various involved, he had to identify realistic combinations of extension levels for the mechanism, and airspeed. On the basis of a piezoelectric actuator, the design was optimized to generate the maximum amount of movement and actuator power. The result is a "Z"-shaped structure. This mechanism amplifies the extension generated by the piezo element into a relatively large movement.

Prototype

Alexandre Paternoster's aerodynamic model is combined with a multi-body simulation and a simulation that is used to assess the performance of the mechanism in practice. The mechanism's performance is sufficient to extend and retract the Gurney flap while it is exposed to the powerful forces generated by the air flow.

He concluded his study by creating a prototype of this z-shaped mechanism. This prototype made it possible to obtain experimental validation of the movements within the mechanism. The prototype performs superbly, and can be easily integrated into helicopter rotor blades. It also demonstrates the potential of piezoelectric material in actuation mechanisms. The development of such innovative technologies provides actuation system solutions for the highly demanding aerospace industry. The next generation of smart helicopters will soon be taking to the skies.

The doctoral thesis is titled "Smart Actuation Mechanisms For Helicopter Blades".

Explore further: Researchers develop a device for running shoes that prevents injuries

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

NASA Tweaks Tech Toolbox to Capture Tricky Rotor Results

Jun 07, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- "Smooth" and "quiet" are two words not usually associated with a helicopter ride, but NASA is working to change that. A full-size UH-60A Blackhawk helicopter rotor was the subject of tests ...

Wind turbine with record-breaking rotors

Jul 30, 2012

Siemens has produced the world's longest rotor blades for wind turbines. Measuring 75 meters in length, the blades are almost as big as the wingspan of an Airbus A380. Beginning this fall, the B75 rotor blades ...

Extreme testing for rotor blades

Apr 01, 2011

Wind turbines are growing bigger and bigger – the diameter of their rotor blades could soon reach 180 meters. But that creates a need for larger test rigs capable of accommodating the blades for load ...

Noise research to combat 'wind turbine syndrome'

Jun 01, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- University of Adelaide acoustics researchers are investigating the causes of wind turbine noise with the aim of making them quieter and solving 'wind turbine syndrome'.

Enhancing the efficiency of wind turbines

Nov 22, 2010

A milestone in the history of renewable energy occurred in the year 2008 when more new wind-turbine power generation capacity was added in the U.S. than new coal-fired power generation. The costs of producing power with wind ...

Recommended for you

Method to reconstruct overt and covert speech

11 hours ago

Can scientists read the mind, picking up inner thoughts? Interesting research has emerged in that direction. According to a report from New Scientist, researchers discuss their findings in converting brain ...

Study says upgrading infrastructure could reduce flood damage

Oct 29, 2014

The severe flooding that devastated a wide swath of Colorado last year might have been less destructive if the bridges, roads and other infrastructure had been upgraded or modernized, according to a new study from the University ...

Walk through buildings from your own device

Oct 29, 2014

Would you like to visit The Frick Collection art museum in New York City but can't find the time? No problem. You can take a 3-D virtual tour that will make you feel like you are there, thanks to Yasutaka ...

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.