Wind Tunnel Testing of the Fish Bone Active Camber Morphing Concept

BKS Woods (Swansea University), O Bilgen (Old Dominion University, USA) & MI Friswell (Swansea University)

Journal of Intelligent Material Systems and Structures, Vol. 25, No. 7, May 2014, pp. 772-785


This work presents comparative experimental investigations into the aerodynamics of the recently proposed Fish Bone Active Camber (FishBAC) morphing structure. This novel, biologically inspired concept consists of four main elements; a compliant skeletal core, a pre-tensioned elastomeric matrix composite skin, an antagonistic pair of tendons coupled to a non-backdriveable spooling pulley as the driving mechanism, and a non-morphing main spar. The FishBAC concept is capable of generating large changes in airfoil camber and is therefore proposed as a high authority morphing solution for fixed wing aircraft, helicopters, wind turbines, tidal stream turbines, and tiltrotors. This testing compares a baseline airfoil employing a conventional trailing edge flap to a continuous morphing trailing edge using the FishBAC concept. Testing is performed in the low speed wind tunnel at Swansea University over a range of camber deformations and angles of attack. Both approaches are capable of generating similar levels of lift coefficient, however comparison of the drag results shows a significant reduction for the FishBAC geometry. While purely 2D flow was not achieved due to restrictions of the tunnel, the two airfoils operated in similar flow environments, allowing for a direct comparison between the two. Over the range of angles of attack typically used in fixed and rotary wing applications, improvements in the maximum obtainable lift-to-drag ratio on the order of 20-25% are shown.

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This material has been published in the Journal of Intelligent Material Systems and Structures, Vol. 25, No. 7, May 2014, pp. 772-785, the only definitive repository of the content that has been certified and accepted after peer review. Copyright and all rights therein are retained by the Sage.

Link to paper using doi: 10.1177/1045389X14521700

Journal of Intelligent Material Systems and Structures