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A Comparative Study of a Morphing Wing

[+] Author Affiliations
Eun Jung Chae, Amin Moosavian, Daniel J. Inman

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

Alexander M. Pankonien

National Research Council, WPAFB, OH

Paper No. SMASIS2017-3833, pp. V002T03A020; 7 pages
  • ASME 2017 Conference on Smart Materials, Adaptive Structures and Intelligent Systems
  • Volume 2: Modeling, Simulation and Control of Adaptive Systems; Integrated System Design and Implementation; Structural Health Monitoring
  • Snowbird, Utah, USA, September 18–20, 2017
  • Conference Sponsors: Aerospace Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5826-4
  • Copyright © 2017 by ASME


Along with recent advancements in novel materials and manufacturing processes, the interest in morphing wings has increased in order to further improve the aerodynamic performance of flying bodies. The morphing wing can be tailored to deliver superior performance, compared to its non-morphing counterparts, for multiple operating conditions and in varying flows. In particular, the morphing wing is implemented for drag reduction and lift enhancement, and hence, the maneuverability, adaptability, and capability of the morphing wing can encompass an even wider spectrum by changing the wing shape. In this research, an existing morphing UAV wing design, Spanwise Morphing Trailing Edge (SMTE), actuated by bending Macro Fiber Composites (MFCs), is considered to generate the spanwise sinusoidal variations on the trailing edge of the morphing wing. A comparative aerodynamic study of the morphing wing by varying the spatial frequency (i.e., number of waves along the span) and the phase shift (i.e., wave shape along the span) at different angles of attack is conducted through analytical approaches and numerical Computational Fluid Dynamic (CFD) simulations, which are validated with previous experimental measurements. The analytical approach uses the three-dimensional (3D) Prandtl lifting line theory, and the CFD modeling in turbulence flow solves the 3D Reynolds-Averaged Navier-Stokes (RANS) equations with the k-ω Shear Stress Transport (SST) turbulence model. Note that the numerical simulations of a morphing wing focus on the pre-stall condition to estimate the aerodynamic performance. This work extends a prior study about a nominal flight condition testing a morphing wing at multiple flight conditions to evaluate multi-point 1 performance. The results show that there are governing aerodynamic efficiency zones of the lift-to-drag ratio, endurance, and aircraft range within a zone of angles of attack. Therefore, the morphing wing is shown to have a good aerodynamic performance as compared to the non-morphing wing.

Copyright © 2017 by ASME
Topics: Wings



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