NASA SBIR 2003 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 03- II A2.03-8191
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Revolutionary Technologies and Components for Propulsion Systems
PROPOSAL TITLE: Smart Materials Technology for High Speed Adaptive Inlet/Nozzle Design

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Todd R. Quackenbush
34 Lexington Avenue
Ewing, NJ 08618-2302
U.S. Citizen or Legal Resident: Yes

Enabling a new generation of high-speed civil aircraft will require breakthrough developments in propulsion systems, including novel techniques to optimize inlet performance in multiple operating conditions. Maximizing propulsive performance while minimizing weight and mechanical complexity is a key goal, and rapidly maturing smart
materials technology can enable adaptive control of inlet geometry to allow in-flight optimization of engine flows. Phase I of this effort built on established device technology using high strength Shape Memory Alloy (SMA) actuators and initiated development of adaptive inlet concepts for application to Supersonic Business Jets (SSBJs). Leveraging this work as well as prior efforts in SMA device design and testing has permitted the first steps in the development a family of actuation and flow control devices for use in flight applications. Phase II will build on this work with mutually supporting design, analysis, and test activities including: detailed definition of the effectiveness of geometry adaptation in improving installed engine performance at low and high speeds; construction and test of a benchtop adaptive inlet component demonstrator using high temperature SMA alloy actuators; high-speed wind tunnel testing of sectional components with realistic thermal and aerodynamic loads; and construction of a model 3D adaptive inlet.

A successful Phase I/Phase II effort will open the door to prototype testing and eventual implementation of flight-qualified SMA adaptive inlet hardware. The most direct beneficiary would be candidate SSBJs that could incorporate high-force, all-electric inlet control systems in dramatically more efficient power plants. Successful implementation in this application would also lead to spinoff developments in a number of actuation tasks, including aerodynamic controls and thrust vectoring as well as steering and outflow redirection for a wide range of aerospace and marine propulsion missions, with direct benefits for both civil and military systems.

By providing highly innovative concepts for propulsion system components for advanced high-speed aerospace vehicles, the proposed effort will directly support a wide range of broad NASA goals including supporting high Mach point to point travel and global cruise capability for civil aircraft. The chief technical output of the effort will be enabling technology for a variable geometry, supersonic, mixed compression inlet to help meet functional airflow needs of high Mach number propulsion. In addition, the integrated aero/thermo/elastic models of actuator performance to be developed will assist the development of concurrent engineering tools for analysis and design of propulsion systems.