About CROP – New Cycloidal Propeller for Air Vehicles

It is nowadays of paramount importance to devise new breakthrough concepts, that can introduce disruptive advancements, resulting on novel air vehicle designs with improved performances and reduced environmental and energetic impacts. The CROP project introduces a novel propulsion concept that intents to conduct to the design of a radically different new propulsion system for aerial vehicles. This can be a key element for a future breakthrough innovation in air transport, by implementing an environmentally friendly propulsion system with a reduction in associated costs. It is indeed the resulting “crop” from a large scope of scientific developments that enable, at present time, to present this concept as feasible. The project aims to demonstrate the possibility of a novel propulsion system based on the cycloidal device referred as PECyT (acronym of “Plasma Enhanced Cycloidal Thruster”) that has been under development at University of Beira Interior. It brings up the benefits of the strong unsteady flow thrust effects, when associated to a plasma based boundary layer control. Also, and in order to achieve a lower weight/power ratio, an integration with novel electric drives, as those developed by University of Sheffield Rolls-Royce UTC is considered. The integration of CROP into an air vehicle will certainly imply a redesign of the airframe, in order to achieve the best performance for the overall system. The new concept will be associated to diverse air vehicle mission profiles, and may lead to the establishment of new ones, resulting on a long term advancement in air transport having a small environmental footprint. The system is devised to be powered by solar photovoltaic and/or fuel cells. Globally, the proposed concept is strongly committed to contribute to the success of a Green Era on air transport as envisaged by European Union decision makers. This novel propulsion concept will imply to take into consideration the aerial vehicle design as a whole, and to explore radically new concepts only made possible by the recent progress achieved on the understanding of unsteady blade flow, low power boundary layer control by plasma actuators, low weight electrical drives, aeroelastic modeling of modern materials, and solar and hydrogen based energy sources. The integration of the novel propulsion device will concomitantly contribute to improve aerial vehicle design, both in terms of maneuverability and reduction of take off and landing spaces, including hovering.

 

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