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Three Major Innovations in Aerospace in 2020 – Abhishek Thakur

Article by Mr. Abhishek Thakur

This article is related with three major innovations in aerospace in 2020. These innovations can change the future of aerospace industry and will play an essential role.

1. SMALLER AND LIGHTER RADIATION SHIELDING

Recently, researchers have developed smaller and lighter radiation shielding technique in North Carolina State University. This new technique protects the electronics devices, instruments and components of aircraft. It will be used mostly in spacecrafts. As we know that electronics devices get damaged and harmed by radiations such as gamma radiations, neutron radiations, cosmic and ionized radiations etc. So there is a need of protection of electronic devices with the help of shielding. There are various types of shielding but this smaller and lighter radiation shielding protection is equal to conventional shielding. In this case the mixture of metal oxide powder and rust is used which is converted in the form of polymer and finally into a simple conformal coating.

The researchers said that rust is a secrets ingredient and provides higher protection to the devices. The simple conformal coating is further used in the devices for protection. This new technique is
much expensive as compared to the other existing techniques, but quite protective. The chances of serious damage or problems in electronic devices are minimized by this smaller and lighter radiation technique. In aviation advancements, weight is a large factor and so this smaller and lighter radiation shielding technique will play an important role. It will remove the need of conventional shielding techniques such as liquid hydrogen shielding, polyethylene shielding etc.

The protection provided by metal powder is high as compared to metal oxide. Metal oxides are less toxic and do not pretence the electromagnetic challenges. These challenges could resist the device operations and efficiency. A report by Radiation Transport Calculations tells that the inclusion of metal oxide powder has much efficient shielding equal to conventional shield. When metal is at low energies, it reduces gamma radiations and neutron radiation as well. Therefore, the
electronic devices remain safe and operational. Metal oxide reduces gamma radiation by a factor of 300 and neutron radiation by 225 percentages (225%). This technology will play an important role in various applications. The researchers are looking for industry partners so that they develop this smaller and lighter radiation shielding technique for commercial use. This innovation in aerospace is really exalted.

2. FUEL EFFICIENT, ROTATING DETONATION ROCKET ENGINE

Rotating detonation rocket engine is more fuel-efficient and having much lightweight. It is easy to fabricate. Light weight makes the spacecraft lighter and also the cost will be less, fuel required to launch a lighter spacecraft will be low. Specifically, Space Shuttles required more than 1587573.3 kg (3.5 million pounds) of fuel to place in the orbit. Definitely, it is a huge amount. The requirement of fuel is large, but the use of detonation engine will make the spacecraft lighter and cheaper. Researchers developed the only the mathematical model till date. The model gives the information and data that how this detonation engine is working which will help helping the engineers to make it more stable and fuel efficient. The working of detonation rocket engine is quite different than conventional rocket engines. In conventional engine rocket engine, burning of propellant take place and then pushing the burning propellant out through engine to produce thrust. But in case of detonation engine, there are cylinder made of concrete. There are some gaps between the cylinders in which the propellant starts flowing. When ignition starts, the heat release will form shock waves and a strong pulse of gas. During this process, the temperature and pressure is much higher. The speed of pulse gas is more than the speed of sound. Also there is no use of much machinery to control the combustion processes of engines. Almost everything is done by the shock waves without any other help form machine parts. Researchers understand the working of the model so that they can make it more stable. They are using high speed camera to record all the processes. The time to complete each experiment is just 5 second, but they recording the experiment with a rate of 240,000 frames per second. This will lead to understand the processes in detail. There is no actual model of this detonation rocket engine yet. This engine will be surprise
and will change the aerospace industry.

3. A 26 GRAM DRONE PROTOTYPE

A 26 gram prototype has designed by a researcher’s team from Australia, Singapore, China and Taiwan. The prototype can glide, hover, brake and dive like a swift. The researcher has made the ornithopter more flexible, quieter and safer as compared to the existing quadcopter drones. The weight of the prototype is equal to the weight of two tablespoons of flour i.e. 26 grams. The prototype has designed in such a way that it can face any cluttered environment during flight. It
has the ability to hover at very low power. It can glide easily and the speed controllers having better controls, speed variations are quite easy to handle. These all controls help the ornithopter to safe from collisions. All these things are not done any quadcopter, that’s what makes ornithopter conspicuous. Flight manoeuvres of this 26 gram drone prototype or ornithopter are quite similar to an aggressive bird as shown in the figure 1. These types of drone are also known as bio-inspired drone. They are having the flapping wing flight mechanisms. The prototype is extremely intelligent and can be act like a bird, knows how to stay safe and perform operations in any environments and that is why this ornithopter is much successful. It has significant uses and can be used in various applications like surveillance, chase birds away from airports to decrease the danger of getting into aircraft engine etc. The stability of drone-prototype is not affected by strong wind. It can handle the strong winds and having great stability. An aerospace engineer Professor Javaan Chalt from University of South Australia says “copying the design of birds, like swift, is just like one strategy to improve the flight performance of flapping wing drones.

In case of existing ornithopter, they can fly forward, backward and also perform circling and gliding, yet up to this time, they have not had the option to hover or climb. Researchers defeated these issues with this 26 gram drone prototype model, accomplishing the same thrust produced by a propeller. An ornithopter is a combination of an aeroplane, helicopter and paraglider. Flapping wings has the major role for propulsion, lift and drag. No commercialised ornithopter is used for the surveillance till now. This ornithopter could be a latest breakthrough researcher claim. Design modification makes it cable to produce enough thrust to hover and it can also able to carry a camera and other electronics. It could be used in traffic monitoring, surveillance in crowded areas, wildlife.

Due to its light weight and quieter speciality, danger to the public is less as compared to the quadcopter drones into the event of a crash. It can be modified to carry payloads by giving the sufficient thrust and power banks. The wing agility makes it to turn in mid air while still flapping at different speeds and angles. The common swift can cruise at a maximum speed of 31m/s or 112 km/hr. This technology will bring a vital change in the ornithopter development era. In aviation advancements, these technology and innovations will play significant role.

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