Morphing nacelle inlet lip with pneumatic actuators and a flexible nano composite sandwich panel

Nazli Gulsine Ozdemir, Fabrizio Scarpa, Monica Craciun, Chrystel D L Remillat, Cristian Lira, Yogesh Jagessur, L. Da Rocha-Schmidt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
383 Downloads (Pure)


We present a hybrid pneumatic/flexible sandwich structure with thermoplastic nanocomposite skins to enable the morphing of a nacelle inlet lip. The design consists of pneumatic inflatables as actuators and a flexible sandwich panel that morphs under variable pressure combinations to adapt different flight conditions and save fuel. The sandwich panel forms the outer layer of the nacelle inlet lip. It is lightweight, compliant and impact resistant with no discontinuities, and consists of graphene-doped thermoplastic polyurethane (G/ TPU) skins that are supported by an aluminium Flex-core honeycomb in the middle, with near zero in-plane Poisson’s ratio behaviour. A test rig for a reduced-scale demonstrator was designed and built to test the prototype of morphing nacelle with custom-made pneumatic actuators. The output force and the deflections of the experimental demonstrator are verified with the internal pressures of the actuators varying from 0 to 0.41 MPa. The results show the feasibility and promise of the hybrid inflatable/nanocomposite sandwich panel for morphing nacelle airframes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number125018
Number of pages15
JournalSmart Materials and Structures
Issue number12
Early online date3 Nov 2015
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015


  • Morphing nacelle
  • pneumatic actuation
  • flexible sandwich panel
  • graphene toughened thermoplastic polyurethane
  • nanocomposite
  • lightning strike protection


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