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Title: An investigation into electro-active membrane wings
Author: Barbu, Ioan Alexandru
ISNI:       0000 0004 6500 8441
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2018
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The study of nature inspired flight techniques has represented a fundamental philosophical question for many centuries. The question of flight was answered by the pioneers of aviation using techniques different than nature’s solution, which is by completely separating the propulsive, lift producing and control systems from each other. Here, we are pursuing a more inclusive approach. By using dielectric elastomers and by assessing the performance of different membrane wings configurations, for now at least, we aim to fully integrate the lift producing and control systems into one. This will not only provide the framework for further developing this class of materials to achieve flapping capabilities, but also will enhance the current understanding of the overall material and aerodynamic performance expected from dielectric elastomers. This long term goal can be achieved only by breaking the fundamental question into smaller, more manageable questions. The thesis starts by providing a thorough literature review of dielectric elastomers and aerodynamic studies focused on membranes. An in-depth comparison of natural muscles and of what literature considers smart materials is also included. Three major experiments have been completed and the key results are then included and discussed. These total over 18 months of full time laboratory tests. The four main chapters of the thesis cover three areas of study: material research, modeling research and aerodynamic research. First, the material benchtop test is provided which clarifies the effects of pre-strain on the actuating performance of electro-active membranes. Second, the aerodynamic performance of electro-active membranes for different pre-strains is assessed; we conclude that the non-pre-strained active membranes show good promise by extending the performance window above the values reported for the passive cases. Third, a simple aero-electro-mechanical model for modelling dielectric elastomers used as electroactive membranes is introduced and validated. Fourth, a comprehensive study of loads, membrane deformation and flow confirms the capabilities of electro-active membranes as flow conditioning devices.
Supervisor: Ganapathisubramani, Bharathram Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available