As battery and electric motor technology continues to advance rapidly, propeller-driven electric aircraft are likely to become a significant part of the aviation market in the near future. One proposed design configuration for electric aircraft involves using large, wingtip- mounted propellers to actively cancel wingtip vortices, a method called active wingtip vortex cancellation (AWVC). By reclaiming part of the kinetic energy that would otherwise be lost to tip vortex formation, drag is decreased. In addition, the induced spanwise flow and upwash from the propeller causes the spanwise lift distribution to remain more uniform at the wingtips, increasing lift. Previous wind tunnel testing of this configuration characterized a significant increase in lift and decrease in drag, particularly in low-aspect-ratio configurations. This paper builds on that research by examining several test cases with a 3D, transient, viscous, sliding mesh CFD analysis in an effort to validate numerical methods for future conceptual design studies. In addition, many practical considerations regarding the implementation of this design are analyzed. Geometry from the aforementioned wind tunnel literature was reconstructed and analyzed. CFD indicated an 18.1% increase in lift and 5.1% increase in net thrust was possible solely through the phenomenon of AWVC. Furthermore, this CFD analysis matched wind tunnel data to within approximately 1%, validating the CFD approach for the analysis of more exotic configurations involving active wingtip vortex cancellation.
Mechanical Engineering and Material Sciences Independent Study
Date of Submission
Sharpe, Peter D. and Agarwal, Ramesh K., "Conceptual and Numerical Analysis of Active Wingtip Vortex Cancellation in Propeller-Driven Electric Aircraft" (2018). Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science Independent Study. 62.