Skip to main content

Preventing aircraft wing surface contamination using liquid films

Academic lead
Dr Andrew Shires (Mechanical Engineering)
Dr Carl Gilkeson (School of Mechanical Engineering), Prof Nik Kapur (School of Mechanical Engineering) , Dr Duncan Borman (School of Civil Engineering)
Project themes
Aerodynamic flow control

Next generation Airbus aircraft are likely to utilise natural laminar flow (NLF) wing designs which can significantly reduce skin friction drag and therefore fuel burn. However, during take-off the wing leading edge can accumulate various debris including dead insects. This contamination increases local roughness and drastically reduces the effectiveness of NLF. This research will investigate the fluid mechanics of liquid films applied (actively or passively) to wing leading-edge slats in order to capture and transport debris downstream of the slat to be carried away from the wing surfaces by the main airstream. The liquid film could be solvent-based or a non-Newtonian liquid that ultimately evaporates leaving no residue that could itself contaminate aircraft surfaces. The research will involve both computational (CFD) modelling and experimental research and should also consider aspects such as application methodology, system requirements, anti-icing systems, cost, and certification.

There is interest from Airbus Group Innovations in assisting this project through in-kind support and potentially facilitating a proof of concept wind tunnel test on an Airbus research model. Airbus could also provide a 6 month secondment for a research student undertaking this project.