Forum für Wissenschaft, Industrie und Wirtschaft

Hauptsponsoren:     3M 
Datenbankrecherche:

 

Engineer Looks to Dragonflies, Bats for Flight Lessons

17.12.2012
Ever since the Wright brothers, engineers have been working to develop bigger and better flying machines that maximize lift while minimizing drag.

There has always been a need to efficiently carry more people and more cargo. And so the science and engineering of getting large aircraft off the ground is very well understood.

But what about flight at a small scale? Say the scale of a dragonfly, a bird or a bat?

Hui Hu, an Iowa State University associate professor of aerospace engineering, said there hasn’t been a need to understand the airflow, the eddies and the spinning vortices created by flapping wings and so there haven’t been many engineering studies of small-scale flight. But that’s changing.

The U.S. Air Force, for example, is interested in insect-sized nano-air vehicles or bird-sized micro-air vehicles. The vehicles could fly microphones, cameras, sensors, transmitters and even tiny weapons right through a terrorist’s doorway.

So how do you design a little flier that’s fast and agile as a house fly?

Hu says a good place to start is nature itself.

And so for a few years he’s been using wind tunnel tests and imaging technologies to learn why dragonflies and bats are such effective fliers. How, for example, do flapping frequency, flight speed and wing angle affect the lift and thrust of a flapping wing?

Hu’s studies of bio-inspired aerodynamic designs began in 2008 when he spent the summer on a faculty fellowship at the Air Force Research Laboratory at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. Over the years he’s published papers describing aerodynamic performance of different kinds of flapping wings.

A study based on the dragonfly, for example, found the uneven, sawtooth surface of the insect’s wing performed better than a smooth airfoil in the slow-speed, high-drag conditions of small-scale flight. Using particle image velocimetry – an imaging technique that uses lasers and cameras to measure and record flows – Hu found the corrugated wing created tiny air cushions that kept oncoming airflow attached to the wing’s surface. That stable airflow helped boost performance in the challenging flight conditions. By describing the underlying physics of dragonfly flight, Hu and Jeffery Murphy, a former Iowa State graduate student, won a 2009 Best Paper Award in applied aerodynamics from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Another study of bat-like wings found the built-in flexibility of membrane-covered wings helped decrease drag and improve flight performance.

And what about building tiny flying machines that use flapping wings? Can engineers come up with a reliable way to make that work?

Hu has been looking into that, too.

He’s using piezoelectrics, materials that bend when subject to an electric current, to create flapping movements. That way flapping depends on feeding current to a material, rather than relying on a motor, gears and other moving parts.

Hu has also used his wind tunnel and imaging tests to study how pairs of flapping wings work together – just like they do on a dragonfly. He learned wings flapping out of sync (one wing up while the second is down) created more thrust. And tandem wings working side by side, rather than top to bottom, maximize thrust and lift.

Hu said these kinds of physics and aerodynamics lessons – and many more – need to be learned before engineers can design effective nano- and micro-scale vehicles.

And so he’s getting students immersed in the studies.

Hu has won a $150,000, three-year National Science Foundation grant that sends up to 12 Iowa State students to China’s Shanghai Jiao Tong University for eight weeks of intensive summer research. The students work at the university’s J.C. Wu Aerodynamics Research Center to study bio-inspired aerodynamics and engineering problems.

“We’re just now learning what makes a dragonfly work,” Hu said. “There was no need to understand flight at these small scales. But now the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Air Force say there is a need and so there’s an effort to work on it. We’re figuring out many, many interesting things we didn’t know before.”

Hui Hu, Aerospace Engineering, 515-294-0094, huhui@iastate.edu
Mike Krapfl, News Service, 515-294-4917, mkrapfl@iastate.edu

Mike Krapfl | Newswise
Further information:
http://www.iastate.edu

More articles from Machine Engineering:

nachricht Process-Integrated Inspection for Ultrasound-Supported Friction Stir Welding of Metal Hybrid-Joints
27.09.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Zerstörungsfreie Prüfverfahren IZFP

nachricht Lightweight robots in manual assembly
13.09.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Arbeitswirtschaft und Organisation IAO

All articles from Machine Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First-Ever 3D Printed Excavator Project Advances Large-Scale Additive Manufacturing R&D

Heavy construction machinery is the focus of Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s latest advance in additive manufacturing research. With industry partners and university students, ORNL researchers are designing and producing the world’s first 3D printed excavator, a prototype that will leverage large-scale AM technologies and explore the feasibility of printing with metal alloys.

Increasing the size and speed of metal-based 3D printing techniques, using low-cost alloys like steel and aluminum, could create new industrial applications...

Im Focus: Zielsichere Roboter im Mikromaßstab

Dank einer halbseitigen Beschichtung mit Kohlenstoff lassen sich Mikroschwimmer durch Licht antreiben und steuern

Manche Bakterien zieht es zum Licht, andere in die Dunkelheit. Den einen ermöglicht dieses phototaktische Verhalten, die Sonnenenergie möglichst effizient für...

Im Focus: Experimentalphysik - Protonenstrahlung nach explosiver Vorarbeit

LMU-Physiker haben mit Nanopartikeln und Laserlicht Protonenstrahlung produziert. Sie könnte künftig neue Wege in der Strahlungsmedizin eröffnen und bei der Tumorbekämpfung helfen.

Stark gebündeltes Licht entwickelt eine enorme Kraft. Ein Team um Professor Jörg Schreiber vom Lehrstuhl für Experimentalphysik - Medizinische Physik der LMU...

Im Focus: Der perfekte Sonnensturm

Ein geomagnetischer Sturm hat sich als Glücksfall für die Wissenschaft erwiesen. Jahrzehnte rätselte die Forschung, wie hoch energetische Partikel, die auf die Magnetosphäre der Erde treffen, wieder verschwinden. Jetzt hat Yuri Shprits vom Deutschen GeoForschungsZentrum GFZ und der Universität Potsdam mit einem internationalen Team eine Erklärung gefunden: Entscheidend für den Verlust an Teilchen ist, wie schnell die Partikel sind. Shprits: „Das hilft uns auch, Prozesse auf der Sonne, auf anderen Planeten und sogar in fernen Galaxien zu verstehen.“ Er fügt hinzu: „Die Studie wird uns überdies helfen, das ‚Weltraumwetter‘ besser vorherzusagen und damit wertvolle Satelliten zu schützen.“

Ein geomagnetischer Sturm am 17. Januar 2013 hat sich als Glücksfall für die Wissenschaft erwiesen. Der Sonnensturm ermöglichte einzigartige Beobachtungen, die...

Im Focus: New welding process joins dissimilar sheets better

Friction stir welding is a still-young and thus often unfamiliar pressure welding process for joining flat components and semi-finished components made of light metals.
Scientists at the University of Stuttgart have now developed two new process variants that will considerably expand the areas of application for friction stir welding.
Technologie-Lizenz-Büro (TLB) GmbH supports the University of Stuttgart in patenting and marketing its innovations.

Friction stir welding is a still-young and thus often unfamiliar pressure welding process for joining flat components and semi-finished components made of...

Alle Focus-News des Innovations-reports >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

IHR
JOB & KARRIERE
SERVICE
im innovations-report
in Kooperation mit academics
Veranstaltungen

Smart Glasses Experience Day

30.09.2016 | Veranstaltungen

Einzug von Industrie 4.0 und Digitalisierung im Südwesten - Innovationstag der SmartFactoryKL

30.09.2016 | Veranstaltungen

"Physics of Cancer" - Forscher diskutieren über biomechanische Eigenschaften von Krebszellen

30.09.2016 | Veranstaltungen

 
B2B-VideoLinks
Weitere VideoLinks >>>
Aktuelle Beiträge

Smart Glasses Experience Day

30.09.2016 | Veranstaltungsnachrichten

Materialkompetenz für den Leichtbau: Fraunhofer IMWS präsentiert neue Lösungen auf der K-Messe

30.09.2016 | Messenachrichten

Vom Rollstuhl auf das Liegerad – Mit Funktioneller Elektrostimulation zum Cybathlon

30.09.2016 | Energie und Elektrotechnik