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Investigation of the Viability of MEMS Technology for Boundary Layer Control on Aircraft

Objective



The recent development of micro-machining technology has made possible the fabrication of Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) where arrays of sensors and actuators having dimensions of a few tens of microns can be integrated with distributed controlling electronics. These advances in technology open up the possibility for a wide range of "smart materials". Individual sensor devices based on micro-fabrication are now finding application within everyday engineering products but the use of structures that employ distributed systems of sensors, actuators and integral control systems are only just being investigated. One potential application of MEMS is the control of the boundary layer flow close to the external surface of an aircraft. The ability to control such flows has the potential to lead to very large improvements in efflciency and performance resulting in dramatic reductions in fuel consumption and pollution. This will give rise to significantly increase product competitiveness. Research into this potential application has begun in the USA but as yet little co-ordinated progress has been made within Europe. The current expert understanding of the state-of-the-art, within the partnership, is that there is the potential for a MEMS based flow control system to be incorporated on a production aircraft within the medium term. Many questions still remain to be answered if this goal is to be achieved and it is felt that both confidence in and awareness of the potential application of MEMS within the aerospace industry needs to be boosted. It is therefore considered opportune to initiate a programme of basic research to answer some of these questions and provide a basic demonstration of the viability of this technology. The primary aim of this research project is to assess, quantify and demonstrate the viability of employing MEMS for a medium term (10 to 15 years) industrial aerospace flow control application. In order to achieve this objective it will be necessary to demonstrate that MEMS hardware technology has the potential to be matured and that the performance benefits will have commercial viability. It order to do this it will be necessary to apply and extend the current state-of-the-art in fluid mechanics and micro-fabrication technology. The work programme will involve undertaking co-ordinated theoretical and experimental studies to evaluate and compare various sensing, actuating and control strategies. The issues of MEMS hardware technology will be addressed and a preliminary development of appropriate prototype sensors, actuators and control systems will be undertaken. Finally, it is proposed that two simple experimental demonstrations of the use of MEMS scale technology to control boundary layer flows for an industrially relevant application will be undertaken. The consortium comprises two of Europe's major aircraft manufacturers and nine universities. The skills represented within the partner organisations are complementary and cover the fields of theoretical and experirnental aerodynamics together with expertise in micro-fabrication technology and control theory. In the field of fluid mechanics, the programme will be scrutinised and guided by a "Senior Fluid Dynamics Panel" comprising six of Europe's recognised experts. The partnership reflects the fact that a significant proportion of the knowledge, skills, experience and facilities required for successfully undertaking this work lies within the research and academic institutions. All have a proven "World class" track record of innovative research in the disciplines essential to the success of this project. The industrial partners are committed to evaluating the use of MEMS technology for flow control and have experience in the development of MEMS hardware and in the theoretical evaluation of MEMS for flow control. They will bring focus to the objectives and will ensure that realistic consideration is given to the key issue of industrial viability.

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts

Coordinator

BAE SYSTEMS (OPERATIONS) LTD
Address
267,Fpc 267
BS35 7QW Bristol
United Kingdom

Participants (10)

CENTRE NATIONAL DE LA RECHERCHE SCIENTIFIQUE
France
Address
Boulevard Paul Langevin, Cite Scientifique
59655 Villeneuve D'ascq
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique
France
Address
32,Avenue Observatoire
25044 Besançon
DASSAULT AVIATION S.A.
France
Address
Quai Marcel Dassault 78
92552 Saint Cloud
Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
Switzerland
Address

1015 Lausanne
NATIONAL TECHNICAL UNIVERSITY OF ATHENS
Greece
Address
9,Iroon Polytechniou Street 9
15773 Athens
Ramot (Tel Aviv) - University authority for Applied Research and Industrial Development Ltd.
Israel
Address
32,Haim Levanon Street
61392 Tel Aviv
TECHNISCHE UNIVERSITAET BERLIN*
Germany
Address
Marchstrasse 12
10587 Berlin
UNIVERSIDAD POLITECNICA DE MADRID
Spain
Address
3,Plaza Cardenal Cisneros 3 Ciudad Universitaria
28040 Madrid
UNIVERSITY OF MANCHESTER
United Kingdom
Address
Simon Building, Oxford Road
M13 9PL Manchester
University of Warwick
United Kingdom
Address

CV4 7AL Coventry