Research on morphing wing structure and energy harvesting

IIT(BHU) Professor’s research on morphing wing structure and energy harvesting

Varanasi. Dr. Nilanjan Mallik, Associate Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology (BHU), has been invited by CIMNE, Spain to deliver talk about research on morphing wing structure and energy harvesting. He will deliver the talk in International conference SMART2019 being held in Arts et Mitiers Paris Tech, Paris, France from July 8 to 12.

Morphing is defined as the ability of certain wing to change its geometrical form during flight. An aircraft with shape-shifting wings would be able to constantly adapt its aerodynamics to different flying stages viz. at take-off, landing and during altitude and direction change and would greatly decrease noise levels, amount of fuel and runway space. Morphing wing structure will use shape changing materials. These materials when activated will change itself to predefined shape and when deactivated will return to its original shape. These materials are known as shape memory alloy (SMA).

Dr. Mallik proposed to use a smart material viz. piezoelectric material along with SMA to harvest energy (electricity) during shape changing cycles of SMA. Piezoelectric materials have capability to generate electricity under mechanical deformation. The proposed morphing structure consists of conventional laminated composite structure bonded with a layer of SMA/epoxy composite which will act as actuator for morphing and a layer of piezoelectric/epoxy composite which will harvest energy from the vibrations generated in the structure. This proposed structure concept is very new and can replace heavy mechanisms used now-a-days for operation of control surfaces of the aircraft. The proposed structure is multifunctional because the structure can perform multiple tasks together without incorporating different parts for different tasks. It can perform structural, morphing and energy harvesting simultaneously. Thus, it will reduce weight and increase fuel efficiency of the aircraft.

According as the research performed by Dr. Mallik, this proposed morphing wing structure can enable the aircraft to smoothly fly through atmospheric turbulences by smoothly transitioning complex manoeuvres thus will increase passenger comfort. The results obtained by him also demonstrate the energy harvesting capability of the proposed structure. According to Dr. Mallik, the main benefit he found of proposed morphing wing is high energy efficiency. Results show reduction in fuel consumption and increase in endurance (time of flight per unit fuel consumption) of aircraft. He proposed to use NiTiNOL as shape memory alloy in the proposed structure. He modelled this material considering multi-variant of the phases and predicted the behaviour of the material to use it in the morphing wing structure. He also proposed to use piezoelectric fiber reinforced composite (PFRC) as energy harvesting material. He predicted behaviour of this material through micromechanical analysis which he earlier established in International Journal publication. According to Dr. Mallik this research will open new opportunities in the morphing wing field as it has very promising applications in the aerospace industry.

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