Morphing Wing Technology

HomeBuiltAirplanes.com

Help Support HomeBuiltAirplanes.com:

Aerowerx

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 1, 2011
Messages
5,526
Location
Marion, Ohio
There had been some wishful thinking on this idea in previous threads.

It turns out that the idea is being worked on by NASA in cooperation with MIT, and is farther along than I first thought.

I just came across a news release and a research paper, both from MIT that describes how it works. Unless you have a PHd the paper will be hard to digest, but it contains a number of pictures that will give you the basic idea.

Looks like we need to get FritzW busy 3-D printing a homebuilt version!;)
 

Aerowerx

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 1, 2011
Messages
5,526
Location
Marion, Ohio
Twisting is a subset of morphing.

The method in the article replaces the functionality of ailerons, the idea I guess is to eliminate the drag caused by the discontinuous conventional control surfaces. I suppose you could divide the wing into sections using their technique, and have each section controlled separately. That would make the control system more complicated though.
 

Sockmonkey

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 24, 2014
Messages
1,798
Location
Flint, Mi, USA
It's cool, but I've always thought that selective blowing of surfaces would be lighter for that level of complexity.
 

Riggerrob

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 9, 2014
Messages
1,400
Location
Canada
What do you mean? Please explain.
Install a blower manifold inside the leading edge of your vertical fin. Also install narrow slots pointing aft. Then install valves to control the amount of air blown along one side or the other.
If you want to turn left, you blow more air along the right side of the rudder/fin. That faster extra airflow creates more "lift" on the right side, pulling the tail towards the right.

One advantage is that narrow slots have a much smaller radar signature than rudder hinges. Narrow slots only contribute a tiny amount to cruise drag. They also allow you to install all the valves internally, with any control routing - probably wires - that you want.
The disadvantage is that blown controls need lots of cool, medium pressure air, usually tapped from the compressor of your jet engine.
What?
You don't have a turbine engine?
Hah!
Hah!
 

Riggerrob

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 9, 2014
Messages
1,400
Location
Canada
yes dear Aerowerx,
Morphing wings require far more actuators, because each aileron section requires a slightly different deflection. One suggestion was to install curved "carrots." Carrots' pivot about an axle that runs straight fore and aft. When twisted, these "carrots" bend ailerons up or down.
The next challenge is building ailerons skins flexible enough for easy actuation, but stiff enough not to flutter.

Production morphing wings are still another decade in the future.
 

Aerowerx

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 1, 2011
Messages
5,526
Location
Marion, Ohio
.....Morphing wings require far more actuators, because each aileron section requires a slightly different deflection.....
Did you look at the article and paper I linked to?

There are no "aileron sections". The whole wing twists and is controlled by only two servos.

You need ribs. You need spars. What they did was come up with a sort of geodesic construction, made of 2 or 3 different elements. They fit together so that each joint flexes in only one direction. The main spar is a hollow tube that rotates about its axis. And the root rib is attached to the fuselage with the tip rib attached to the spar.

Note that the airfoil shapes do not change, only their angle of attack.

I think it is a neat idea, but don't know how practical it is for a human carrying aircraft.
 

Victor Bravo

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 30, 2014
Messages
7,216
Location
KWHP, Los Angeles CA, USA
If they ever are able to get "morphing" wing technology to the point it can be used, it will have nothing to do with ailerons or roll/pitch/yaw control. I will be used to reconfigure the main wing airfoil between high Cl and low Cd for takeoff and landing versus cruise flight. This would allow a smaller lighter wing to make a lot of lift at low speed, and then morph into a low drag section for high speed cruise. That is the only benefit large enough to justify the technology and complexity of making the wing change shape in any capacity.

OR... you can just use the short answer... MONEY.

It will allow an airplane to go faster and more efficiently between two airports on a small low drag wing, and then slow down enough to land safely at the destination, saving MONEY for the operator.

That's the only reason why the manufacturers and airlines accept the complexity and cost/weight of those huge house-sized Fowler flaps, the tracks and hinges, the maintenance, etc.
 

Aerowerx

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 1, 2011
Messages
5,526
Location
Marion, Ohio
Keep in mind that "morphing" was the term that the two sources I linked to used.

They are using them to provide aileron/roll control. The problem with conventional control surfaces is that the gap and sharp edges produce extra drag beyond that of the deflected surface. The method described eliminates this.

However, I can imagine with a more complex actuator system that the basic idea could be used for a full morphing wing.
 
Top