Methods and Experiments for NOvel Rotorcraft (MENtOR)

Lead Research Organisation: Cranfield University
Department Name: Sch of Aerospace, Transport & Manufact


Abstracts are not currently available in GtR for all funded research. This is normally because the abstract was not required at the time of proposal submission, but may be because it included sensitive information such as personal details.


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Description Initial theoretical and experimental research has, so far, shown that the application of synthetic leading edge bumps, acting like the tubercles on whale fins, can suppress the detrimental flow separations on propeller blades geometries in purely non-rotating swept and pitched configurations. Testing is due to take place, post-project, in Summer 2023 following investment and improvement in the propeller rig to acquire thrust forces
in addition to the data captured in the test campaign in Summer 2022. Computational fluid dynamics (Steady Navier-Stokes) performed in summer 2022 predicted that the tubercles do not significantly improve the overall
performance of propellers of the type tested in the MENTOR project under low to moderate blade pitch. However, this needs to be experimentally verified in the 2023 tests, alongside further CFD calculations at higher blade pitch. Once this extra, final, work tasks are complete, a full understanding of the effect of tubercles applied to propellers will be able to be reported. Interim results were published in a paper at the ICAS 2022 conference.

The project, still ongoing, has shown that in the case of the flow past static (non-rotating) propeller blades, application of these tubercles can significantly suppress flow separations from the blade surfaces and significantly improve the blade performance in terms of thrust efficiency. Tests are currently ongoing on a propeller rig in the context of application to tilt-rotors to improve performance and detrimental vibrations, with results due in summer 2022.
Exploitation Route We are working with an SME to develop surface coatings for low drag and low noise. The rig developed in MENTOR has been used in this project,
and has led to further collaboration and work.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Energy,Environment,Security and Diplomacy,Transport

Description The rig has been used by a British government department and a commercial company to develop technology of a secret nature.
First Year Of Impact 2022
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine
Title Propeller-nacelle-wing test rig 
Description The Mentor project has funded the development and demonstration of a new integrated propeller-nacelle-wing test rig suitable for experimentation of aircraft propeller/wing interactions, particularly with application to tilt-rotor aerodynamics. The rig is now available for use via the National Wind Tunnel Test Facility in the 8x6 Wind Tunnel at Cranfield University. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2022 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The test rig is being employed on the MENTOR project to obtain detailed experimental data on the effect of novel flow control on propeller blades to suppress flow breakdown on the blades, and on the wing. A paper has been submitted to the International Congress of the Aeronautical Sciences and once the test campaign is completed before August 2022, the work will be written up in archival journal publications. It will, potentially, result in passive flow control technology of immediate application to improve the aerodynamic efficiency of propellers and wind turbines. The rig is planned to be used by a series of PhD students at Cranfield University.