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EADS scientists combat ice and flies

Aerospace and defence group EADS inaugurated iCORE, its new Icing and Contamination Research Facility at its German headquarters in Ottobrunn near Munich on Wednesday. The lab is part of EADS Innovation Works, the corporate research and technology network. At the core of the facility is a laboratory- scale cryogenic wind tunnel which combines the various elements that create icing conditions.

"This facility will greatly facilitate our efforts to increase flight efficiency. It also further leverages the research and technology capabilities of our Ottobrunn site and the Munich region," said EADS Chief Technical Officer Jean Botti.

The main purpose of the new research facility is to find ways to minimise or even prevent the build-up and adhesion of ice on the plane's surface, thereby reducing energy consumption for inflight de-icing. EADS IW scientists are studying the use of coatings and tailored surfaces to counter the accumulation of ice from supercooled water droplets – a common condition of meta stable water encountered during flight in the atmosphere and in cloud. The coatings are expected to support the use of new- generation on-board de-icing systems that respond to the increasing evolution of electric aircraft. The applications for these solutions range from airliners and helicopters to military unmanned aerial vehicles.

The planned research activities in the new facility will address laminar flow technology. The effect of insect contamination on flow characteristics will also be investigated in this context. Insect contamination has no impact on flight efficiency today. When the laminar flow technology currently under development goes into use, however, this situation will change: minor turbulence may occur due to insect contamination. This would jeopardise the goal of fuel savings through turbulence-free airflow.

EADS Innovation Works' Surface Technologies Group has developed a variety of test rigs to better comprehend how icing occurs in different conditions. It is also helping to understand the effects of sand and rain erosion on surfaces designed to resist insect contamination or ice accretion.

A cooperative agreement with the Department of Aerospace Engineering and the Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems at Mississippi State University enables EADS IW to utilise these US institutes' expertise in computational fluid dynamics to model the impact of supercooled droplets on aerodynamic surfaces in airflow.

The new, more compact tunnel will increase EADS Innovation Works' capability to perform icing tests using a smaller-scale facility than traditional tunnels. Conventional facilities are typically much larger due to the distance needed to cool the water droplets from their deployment out of a spray bar delivery system to their arrival at the test section. The opportunities for testing in such larger tunnels are limited because of the higher operational costs and limited availability of test sessions.

The facility's initial focus will be on investigating multi-phase flow, phase change, the splash behaviour of drops and the crystallisation process of supercooled droplets.

Data from these wind tunnel tests will be incorporated in an EADS Innovation Works- led European project on icing, called AEROMUCO (AEROdynamic surfaces by advanced MUltifunctional COatings). The scope of the programme will also cover the creation of ice-resistant coatings and pursue the investigations in larger tunnels – eventually leading to flight tests on an aircraft test bed from the Istres Flight Test Centre in France.

Press release issued by Airbus Group Innovations on January 25, 2012


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