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The Integration of Novel Aerospace Technologies

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - INNOVATIVE (The Integration of Novel Aerospace Technologies)

Reporting period: 2016-03-01 to 2018-02-28

Flightpath 2050 sets out a vision for a future aerospace industry with “A network of multidisciplinary technology clusters” being at the heart of technology development to keep Europe competitive in this strategically important global industry. Currently, multidisciplinary training tailored to the needs of the aerospace industry is limited and we are not aware of any programmes currently looking at developing the next generation of research professionals who would be capable of leading the multidisciplinary teams of the future. The INNOVATIVE programme aims to address this issue and is delivering a step-change in the training of Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) in aerospace technologies by providing a comprehensive programme empowering researchers with a multidisciplinary skillset comprising tools, techniques and methods suitable for pursuing careers in Aerospace Technology and related fields. They also benefit from being based in the supra-disciplinary environment of the Institute for Aerospace Technology (IAT) at the University of Nottingham, which regroups all aerospace interests and activities in the University, from science and engineering, to business, law and political sciences and psychology. The ESRs also gain unrivalled exposure to the aerospace industry through secondments into leading companies.
Twenty-three ESRs have been employed to the INNOVATIVE project across three distinct Calls. Cohort 1 started in September 2016, Cohort 2 in October 2017 and Cohort 3 in February 2018 with each cohort containing 9, 4 and 10 ESRs respectively. All recruitment to the programme has been conducted in an open and transparent manner. Significant work has been undertaken to deliver a comprehensive training programme for the ESRs. The programme covers technical skills, team work, professional skills and scientific outreach. Highlights include access to the Universities wide-ranging training courses and Undergraduate Modules, attendance at the University of Nottingham’s Graduate School annual professional skills training week, a technical summer school provided by a specialist aerospace modelling company (PACE), access to a personal budget to conduct skills training specific to each PhD and finally, aerospace themed design and make challenges. Each ESR has been allocated to at least two academic supervisors of differing disciplines giving ESRs a broader and multi-skilled approach to their PhD work. Cohort 1 have excelled with early publications: 2 Journal and 2 Conference publications have been published with 4 Journal and 4 Conference papers submitted and either under review or awaiting publications.
* ESRs are designing optimised and better managed intelligent electrical network topologies to support the move towards more and fully electric aircrafts to support safer onboard systems, reduced production costs and minimise losses.
* Performance Improvements to aeroengine seals to extend seal life through innovative design; impacts would be seen in engine performance and efficiency with other benefits being seen in air quality and flight safety.
* Improvements to the methods for modelling aerospace CFD challenges are being sought through the development of a Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics (SPH) mesh method resulting in a more stable and accurate processing environment.
* Concurrent Engineering methods are being investigated focussing on components manufactured using composite materials. Potential impacts of improved concurrent methods include shorter time-to-market, reduced product development costs and components which are better optimised for cost, weight and performance.
* Design improvements to Green Taxiing motors through increasing motor torque density. This would improve the overall efficiency of the aeroplane drive system and support progression towards more and full electric aircraft.

* Improved understanding of the lifetime of electrical components is being investigated. Existing models on electrical insulations will be empirically modified/readapted leading to a new design tool/procedure for electrical machines to be employed in harsh aerospace environments.
* More and full electric aircraft require significant improvements to the reliability of power converters. Work in this area will look to balance the conflicting demands of weight, efficiency, size, cost and fault tolerance, resulting in improved power convertors that can be used in next generation aircraft.
* Innovative surface modification to aid dry lubrication of helicopter bearings is being investigated with the aim to improve frictional performance and wear life of bearing liner composite material. Expected impacts include longer service life, less maintenance and more economical operation of helicopter rotors.
* De-icing electro-thermal systems are frequently required in the aerospace sector to prevent and remove ice from aircraft surfaces during the flight. Novel solutions to this field are therefore being investigated and developed through employing self-heating nanocomposites thus providing lighter and more energy efficient systems.
* Improved analysis techniques have been developed to better predict the location of damage within composite materials on aircraft bodies through novel modelling of the vibrational properties of textile composites at a mesoscopic scale.
* Due to the growth in the application of UAVs, work is seeking to improve navigation accuracy for improved aerial surveillance, through incorporating vehicle dynamics to a GNSS/INS (low cost MEMs) architecture. Further benefits include the safer integration of UAVs with existing general aviation aircraft.

* Advancements in 3D printing are being sought through developing novel materials for selective laser melting to manufacture topology optimised soft and permanent magnets which can operate at high temperatures. Optimisation of magnetic components is highly beneficial where weight is a primary determinant efficiency.
* A new Non-Destructive Testing method using electromagnetic waves is under development, particularly for use on carbon composite materials. This new technique will reduce testing costs and the ability to detect issues in regions hard to access using existing methods.

* Work is investigating alternative power supplies for green taxiing systems such as batteries and super capacitors. This would improve functioning of green taxiing systems and enable regeneration of the energy during braking process.
Picture taken at Mid Term review with Prof Hervé Morvan (Coordinator 2016-March 2018)
Picture taken at Mid Term review with Prof Sergei Bozhko and Dr. Tao Yang (Coordinators March 2018)