Design of Morphing Wing Structures L. Iannucci and A.

Fontanazza Imperial College London, Exhibition Road, London, SW7 2AZ

Abstract In the present paper the initial review of morphing design methodologies is discussed and forms part of the research conducted at Imperial College over the past year on morphing technologies. The concept of morphing, that is the capability of a structure of large shape changing, has been widely studied by the research community and industries, in particular for application on Unmanned Vehicles (UXVs). The development of innovative adaptive structures on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) such as morphing wings can potentially reduce system complexity by eliminating control surfaces and their auxiliary equipment. This technology has the potential of allowing a UAV to adapt to different mission requirements or executing a particular mission more effectively. Moreover it can also be exploited for flight control. Two current actuator concepts under investigation are discussed. A simplified evaluation of the requirements to manoeuvre a typical small UAV is also included, being the basis for the selection of both the concept and smart material to be used. Keywords: Smart material, EAP, shape memory composite, morphing. Introduction In the past few decades, interest in morphing structures has increased due to the superior benefits they can provide. A structure that can change its geometric characteristics and tune its properties (stiffness and damping) to meet the mission’s requirements or different load conditions is appealing. There is not a formal definition of ‘morphing’, although it commonly implies large shape change due to an external input. For instance, the definition given in the context of the ‘NASA’s Morphing Project’ [1] is ‘…efficient multipoint adaptability that may include micro, macro, structural and fluidic approaches’. More generally it can be intended as a method in which an object, modifying its shape and dimensions, can change its interaction with the surrounding environment. Since the shape of an aircraft strongly affects its performance and flight dynamics, morphing technologies have always been investigated by the Aerospace industry. In particular the wings are mainly responsible for the aerodynamic loads acting on typical aircrafts in terms of lift and drag. Hence, most of the past and current research on morphing aircrafts investigates the possibility of effectively changing the wing geometry. Approach to the Problem and Strategies The design of a morphing aircraft by means of smart materials is a problem that involves different disciplines. In fact, the idea is to design a structure that is not only capable of withstanding prescribed loads, but also to change its shape in order to withstand different ones. Morphing can be achieved by the use of motors or complex mechanism distributed through the wing. Considering the weight of the actuators and the fact that changing the shape of a structure requires additional power to overcome its stiffness, using traditional actuators (electric or pneumatic) and complex mechanisms does not seem to

3rd SEAS DTC Technical Conference - Edinburgh 2008


the basis for the design of the morphing concept and of each single subsystem is set. Apart from the benefits in terms of complexity.4]. In Figure 2 the involved subsystems are shown. so that what is envisaged to produce and carry the loads. The wing of the morphing aircraft can undergo shape change both in airfoil camber and twist. Each of them determines the final result in terms of smart concept. [2] performed numerical aeroelastic analyses on a morphing UAV. The forces produced by the actuators have been accounted for by equivalent moments distributed along the wing. according to further studies [3. reliability. there should not be a neat distinction between structure and actuation system. due to coupled effects. System Requirement Definition At this stage. such a concept would prove to be lighter. should be embedded in the structure. is also capable to change its own shape or a limited part of it. coupling the structural finite elements code NASTRAN with an aerodynamic Vortex Lattice Method. the actuation system. bearing in mind that the various parts must interact properly. The importance of considering the interaction of fluid and structure in the morphing design is that. and how this is affected by the interaction between fluid and structure. the energy required for morphing is actually reduced with respect to the one obtained by neglecting structural deformation. In order to reduce the complexity and hence increase the reliability. Figure 1 indicates an approach to the design of a morphing concept. and production cost.Edinburgh 2008 C18 . Strategy System requirement definition Design of each single sub-system Figure 1: Approach to the design of a morphing concept 3rd SEAS DTC Technical Conference . Ideally. In the following we will refer to such a concept as ‘hybrid’. Objectives of morphing Control Aerodynamics SMART CONCEPT Structure Power Systems integration Figure 2: Smart concept design with respect to the single subsystems In morphing vehicles the amount of energy required for actuation is basically the sum of the work to overcome the aerodynamic forces (Waer) and the strain energy due to the induced shape change (Ustr) WTOT = Waer + Ustr where the contribution due to the structure deformation can be sensibly higher than the one due to aerodynamics. Research has focused on considering both the contributions at the same time performing coupled analysis to derive the necessary amount of power for actuation. consisting of active materials.bring the desired benefits that one should expect from a morphing concept. It has been demonstrated how a morphing wing can exhibit better roll performance and higher roll reversal speed. meaning that the morphing structure has the dual function of carrying the loads and including the actuation system. and viable solutions must be evaluated. Gern et al.

Depending on the expected performance. and power saving are among the main reasons for looking at solid state actuators for flight control. Mass. actuators based on smart materials like PZT. prove to have twice the mass specific energy and 4 to 6 the volumetric specific energy of conventional actuators [6]. making use of all-movable surfaces. Optimization studies can also be performed in order to minimise the power needed for actuation [5]. space. the use of other smart materials. is 3rd SEAS DTC Technical Conference . A way to improve these designs in order to make them more convenient and reliable would be to simplify the concept. bearing in mind that this would require extra energy to deform the structure itself. In order to achieve larger displacements. The outlined concepts. Frameworks to take into account all the different aspects of the problem would be extremely useful to verify the soundness of the smart concept and for further multi-disciplinary analysis. research has explored different solutions for high and low aspect ratio wing. The two most promising strategies for high and low aspect ratio wings are the twisting of the whole wing and the deformation of a limited part of the wing (trailing edge) respectively. while increasing the control authority in terms of maximum achievable deformation. • All the concepts made use of piezoelectric materials that can work at high frequencies necessary for flight control. deforming the whole airfoil section to modify its chamber is not effective because a large amount of power would be required to deform the structure itself. Concerning roll control. • They are characterised by low control authority in terms of achievable displacements. Morphing for Flight Control The contribution of the flight control systems to the fixed equipment weight of typical fighters can normally reach up to the 10-25% and they can occupy between 4 and 8% of the volume of modern missiles. Morphing Concept Requirements The objective is to control the aircraft about the roll axis in order for a turn manoeuvre. • Some concepts (the Flexspar for instance) proved to be more complex than the conventional control systems. keeping the system simple. demonstrate some common features: • Using solid state actuators results in a lighter design. similar to the one due to differential aileron deflection. the following main requirements can be determined at the end of this stage: • Extent of the shape change • Type of actuation • External work • First evaluation of deformation energy involved • Speed of actuation • First evaluation of power required • Level of reliability needed • Actuation occurrence • Necessity to conditions operate in different required. it is intuitive that in order to create the required aerodynamic moment about the roll axis. is recommended. the former including also applications for helicopters’ blades twist control and vibrations suppression. Moreover. rather than piezoelectric ceramics. that proved to be effective in wind tunnel tests and free flight. In the past. a spanwise variation in lift coefficient.Edinburgh 2008 C18 . Since the chordwise bending stiffness of closed-box wing structures is significant. hinges and kinematisms. A viable solution to decrease the complexity is to embed the actuator in the structure.

Not only would the system complexity increase. not to hold the new position. the morphing system can also be used to counteract random disturbances: for instance gusts can be particularly severe flying between buildings or in closed spaces. In fact. should be reachable in order to perform different manoeuvres and to counteract random disturbances. like flight speed. be used to achieve wing twisting [9]. which possess multiple equilibrium shapes [8].Edinburgh 2008 C18 .take into account the fact that part of the structure needs to be deformed. air temperature. the morphing system should employ more multistable units (Figure 5). Typical aileron deflection rates for UCAVs are 60-75 degrees per second [7] • Capability to operate over a wide range of flight conditions. in order to achieve all possible configurations over a wide range of conditions. However. and the contribution of the elastic energy may be considerable with respect to the aerodynamic work. SMART MATERIAL Figure 3: Morphing through local change of the wing shape For flight control. In terms of power consumption. • Power is only needed to pass from one shape to another. In this way. but also managing the 3rd SEAS DTC Technical Conference . the system should exhibit the following main characteristics : • Relatively fast dynamics in order to allow prompt response to inputs from the remote pilot or autonomous control system. due to unsymmetric stacking sequence and temperature difference between the curing process and the operating condition. for instance. and wind • Capability of high recoverable strains • Capability of repetitive actuations • Low power consumption • High reliability. should be capable of large and recoverable free strains. and effective in transforming the input energy into mechanical energy. the smart material should respond quickly to the external stimuli. between the undeformed and the fully deflected. since there are usually two equilibrium configurations. consequently. multiple equilibrium configurations. A way to overcome this problem could be the use of multistable structures (Figure 4). this approach is very appealing and may. The main advantages of this approach are that: • A low amount of energy is required to transform the structure from one configuration to the other. The ability to work under different conditions also implies that the morphing system has to be fully controllable: ideally all the positions. exhibits large out-ofplane displacements and. this approach is not ideally suited to morphing applied to flight control. ideally not affected by fatigue issues. The low power consumption requirement should SNAP-THROUGH Figure 4: Multistable structures They usually consist of a composite laminate that. since malfunctioning may cause the loss of the aircraft In order to meet the above requirements and to keep the design as simple as possible. avoiding the use of sophisticated kinematisms. The input energy can be provided by means of piezoelectric patches bonded on the surface of the laminate.

ABAQUS. This is modelled within ABAQUS as an equivalent temperature change in the wires. working basically as a capacitor. like those required to perform better during different phases of a mission or to increase the efficiency. the advantage in terms of limited system complexity are very interesting. in case it was possible to exploit both the direct and the converse effects of an active material (like the piezoceramics typically). A more viable solution is to embed an actuator to affect bending. The manufacturing would potentially be relatively straightforward. can expand and contract with temperature changes due to phase changes at specific temperatures in the material.deformations at the interface between different units and keeping the adaptive surface smooth would be an issue. having the chance to continuously track the shape of the deformable part. based on a smart material into the skin of a compliant trailing edge and make them deform together as shown in Figure 6. In order to limit the power consumption. systems for energy harvesting could be employed in order to obtain the required energy for morphing from the air stream. Shape Memory Wire Concept A flexible plate was used to approximate a cambered wing with a small curvature (2% maximum camber) with NiTi wires embedded in the surface.Edinburgh 2008 C18 . The thickness-to-chord ratio in the prototype case was about 3. The structure was modelled using the Finite Element code. Moreover. such as Nitinol. Actuator Actuator Figure 6: Morphing concepts based on active material embedded into a compliant trailing edge 3rd SEAS DTC Technical Conference . by means of innovative resin infusion techniques. with the potential to produce the whole wing in just one run. Moreover. especially at the corners of each patch. the system could be employed both as a transducer and as a sensor. Figure 5: Morphing concepts based on several multistable structures For this reason the use of multistable structures appears to be more appropriate for permanent shape changes. The two parts would then be provided with opportune interfaces to be coupled mechanically and at the systems level. Another solution may be to manufacture the wing and the deformable part separately and then assemble them. It would then be possible to realise a compact feedback control system. the smart material should be able to keep the deformed shape without continuous supply of power.4%. Shape Memory alloys. Apart from the features listed above that are challenging from the design point of view considering the smart materials currently available on the market.

as required ElectroActive Elastomer (DEA) Concept The initial step on this concept was to model the material and actuator concept.0 kV corresponds to 0. • Washout can be obtained with different curvatures along the wingspan. The pressure. Figure 7: Curved composite plate. • Once the curvature has been changed.displacement on the bottom right corner. • Different angle configurations would allow the wing to adapt itself to different flight conditions. The fibres orientation allowed a much more significant A DEA can be compared to a capacitor. It can be seen from Figure 10 that the thickness of the plate has decreased as the material is C18 3rd SEAS DTC Technical Conference . Therefore. the optimum prototype actuator design was manufactured. optimizing its efficiency and reducing fuel use. allowing the ailerons to be controlled. such that the trailing edge is connected to them. Figure 7 and Figure 8: • If the Nitinol tubes are placed along the wingspan. Figure 9: DEA before actuation Figure 10: DEA after actuation Figure 8: Spatial displacement along z. as required. In this case a Voltage of 3. To have the opposite twisting. causing a lower angle of attack at the tips. the curvature of the wing can be changed. another mechanism in the other direction would be needed. applied on the material can be calculated by the Maxwell stress equation. lift coefficients would increase as well as rolling moments. due to the shrinkage of the NiTi wires. with Nitinol wires placed along and aside the principal diagonal Several points have been identified in the initial simulations / modelling. the wing will stall first at the root.Edinburgh 2008 . The hyperelastic material is used as a dielectric component squeezed between two compliant electrodes.005587 MPa. Figures 9 and 10. fixed on the left edge. Once the actuator concept was successfully modelled. The Elastomer material can be modelled using the hyperelastic model within ABAQUS FE software. This will allow the twisting in one direction.

A. Acknowledgements The work reported in this paper was funded by the Systems Engineering for Autonomous Systems (SEAS) Defence Technology Centre established by the UK Ministry of Defence. Conclusions In the present paper. CA.e. Washburn. M.N.. [2] Gern.. E. N.. GA. Inman..M. J. [7] Kudva. Eng. Vol. 15. This in-plane expansion is used in the actuation. Seigler. Inderjit Chopra.12.S. Rotors and Active Aerodynamics. D. Mason. Brozoski. Neal. Eng. (USA). Norfolk. A new Concept for Active Bistable Twisting Structures. B. Vol..A. and a second using elastomer polymers. May 1996. Editor.. Vol. The elastomer polymer concept has shown a very high power density. Aeroelastic Considerations on Shape Control of an Adaptive Wing. The authors would like to acknowledge the help of Seema Raghunathan and Adam Stapleton. Adaptive Flight Control Surfaces. and Materials Conference. L. 7-10. D. 5764. [6] Barrett. Proc. Soc. Vol.. M.. San Diego. Smart Structures and Materials. i. The concept... Morphing Airfoil Shape Change Optimization with Minimum Actuator Energy as an Objective. L. 2004.C. D. Siochi. E. Bryant. D. Opt..Int. M. G.. VA. Currently different concepts are being investigated. W. Two actuator concepts are currently being investigated. AIAA Journal. F. working as a DEA..D. and hence there is an in plane expansion. an overview of morphing wings for flight control has been given.11-12.. Weisshaar. Overview of the DARPA Smart Wing Project. SPIE . Inman. Journal of Intelligent Material Systems and Structures. Eng. No. (USA). No.J.O.incompressible. T. R. [3] Johnston. Cox. Proc. A model to compare the flight control energy requirements of morphing and conventionally actuated wings. Smart Structures and Integrated Systems. 4-6. [8] Schultz. Wiggins. however. H. S.. Crossley. San Diego. the ‘roll-concept’ was taken as the ‘best’ structure for the actuator. which seems more appropriate to meet the flight control requirements.. Inman. Apr. Holloway. Sep. Structural and Aeroelastic Modelling of General Planform Wings With Morphing Airfoil. L.H. 2002.A. consists of a compliant deformable trailing edge with smart materials embedded into the skin. v 2717. 4698. No..H. Vol. Vol. Structural Dynamics.A..R.. C. T. Kyong.. 14.. Robertshaw.K. Recent results from NASA’s Morphing Project. SPIE Int. A. [4] Bae.J. Padula. References [1] McGowan. 2003. Wings. is ‘rolled up’ as a ‘cigar’.. 3rd SEAS DTC Technical Conference . CA. R. 2005. W. Soc. working basically as a capacitor. Snap-through of Unsymmetric Cross-ply Laminates using Piezoceramic Actuators.W.. 9th AIAA/ISSMO Symposium on Multidisciplinary Analysis and Optimization. as well as some possible solutions. R. D. No. 44th AIAA/ASME/AHS/ASC Structures.. 16.. the plate. M. Horta.Int. Hyer.J.M. Journal of Intelligent Material Systems and Structures. SPIE .H. Soc. The morphing system should keep the deformed shape without a continuous supply of power. J.R. 1996. Proc. E. Journal of Intelligent Material Systems and Structures. J. Smart Structures and Materials 2005. Atlanta. Kapania.H.. [9] Schultz. one using shape memory alloys. R... Smart Structures and Materials 2002. [5] Prock.Edinburgh 2008 C18 .. F. 2003.. 2002. G. N.40. 4. Opt. M.4. Opt.

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