Aircraft Wing Without Moving Surface

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To control an aircraft, the wing always has certain movable surfaces. All movable surfaces are at down stream because if you install a flap pointing forward, it will create instability and be damaged unless the mechanism is really strong (which will increase the weight significantly).

Can we turn the bad instability to good use? Instability means positive feedback/amplification. That is, to amplify a tiny disturbance into large destructive(or constructive?) force. In other words, it might be able to amplify small control force into real control.

My proposed wing shape is symmetric so it will not create any lift by itself. To create lift, one must introduce asymmetric flows onto top and bottom surfaces. I propose two methods for such purpose:

1. Surface corona ion thruster. Corona ion thruster is nothing new. Many people tried to use it for propulsion but because of its low thrust and low energy efficiency, it is not practical to be used for propulsion. However, because its shape can be tailored, I propose to change its design to a surface flow modifier - I call it surface corona ion thruster. Basically, it consists of a sharp pointing cathode pointing forward from the wing. The anodes will be two fins (or surface areas) one on top and one on bottom of the wing. By changing the polarity of the two anodes, one can direct the ion flow toward the top or bottom causing asymmetric flow creating variable lift. In order to magnify the (bifurcation) effect, the leading edge of the wing shall be sharp instead of round (as all current aircraft wings are).

2. Piezoelectric driven vibrating surfaces on top and bottom of the wing. When one side is vibrating, the surface boundary layer of that side will be changed and hence the flow symmetry.

Either method will eliminate wing flaps and their supporting structures to make the wing lighter and stronger. Because of advances in electronics, the addition of a voltage converter is cheap and light. A wing without moving surfaces will work better in hypersonic flight which puts higher demand on wing structure strength. It can also be applied to reentry vehicles when Mach number reaches 8 or above.

Are there problems? Of course there are. For example, will the charge accumulation causing lightening like space shuttle disaster? What about effect on communication? What about slow speed situation such as taking-off or landing? Well it is impossible to address all issues in 500 words. But I do think this is a direction worth studying.

Let me finish the proposal with some teaching in Chinese martial arts "shi liang bo qian jin" translation: "Using 4 oz force (side way) to redirect an impact of one thousand pounds". That is the idea behind this invention.


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  • Name:
    Sam Chen
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