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.
- Morphing nacelle
- pneumatic actuation
- flexible sandwich panel
- graphene toughened thermoplastic polyurethane
- lightning strike protection
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- Department of Aerospace Engineering - Professor of Smart Materials & Structures
- Cabot Institute for the Environment
- The Bristol Centre for Nanoscience and Quantum Information
- Composites University Technology Centre (UTC)
- Bristol Composites Institute (ACCIS)
Person: Academic , Member