Abstract

In the modern days of air travel, more fuel-efficient aircraft is desired to meet the demanding requirements of the long-haul market. This paper explores the feasibility of using a tensegrity column topology as the means for the internal mechanism of a twisting wing, which can be potentially applied to more fuel-efficient aircraft. This new morphing wing design removes the need for separate control surfaces such as ailerons and allow the wing to have a continuous surface which in turn will reduce aerodynamic drag and improve the overall performance. Furthermore, the tensegrity-based design can potentially reduce the weight of the wing by replacing conventional metal-based support structures with a lightweight tensegrity design. A design-of-experiments (DOE) study on the influence of the topological parameters of the torsional tensegrity mechanism on the achievable twist angle, structural mass, and the stresses in the different wing components is performed. It is found that for a wing with a span and chord length of 2 m, the maximum achievable twist angle from root to tip per unit mass, without any component exceeding their maximum allowable stress value, is 0.0659°/kg. The tensegrity column mechanism for this design consists of four torsional cells (equivalent to five ribs) and ten sets of actuating wires along the circumference of the column sections.

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