One of key NASA goals is to develop and integrate noise reduction technology to enable unrestricted air transportation service to all communities. One of the technical priorities of this activity has been to account for and reduce noise via propulsion/airframe interactions, identifying advanced concepts to be integrated with the airframe to mitigate these noise-producing mechanisms.

An adaptive geometry chevron using embedded smart structures technology offers the possibility of maximizing engine performance while retaining and possibly enhancing the favorable noise characteristics of current designs. New high-temperature shape memory alloy (HTSMA) materials technology enables the devices to operate in both low-temperature (fan) and high-temperature (core) exhaust flows. Chevron-equipped engines have demonstrated reduced noise in testing and operational use. It is desirable to have the noise benefits of chevrons in takeoff/landing conditions, but have them deployed into a minimum drag position for cruise flight.

The central feature of the innovation was building on rapidly maturing HTSMA technology to implement a next-generation aircraft noise mitigation system centered on adaptive chevron flow control surfaces. In general, SMA-actuated devices have the potential to enhance the demonstrated noise reduction effectiveness of chevron systems while eliminating the associated performance penalty. The use of structurally integrated smart devices will minimize the mechanical and subsystem complexity of this implementation.

The central innovations of the effort entail the modification of prior chevron designs to include a small cut that relaxes structural stiffness without compromising the desired flow characteristics over the surface; the reorientation of SMA actuation devices to apply forces to deflect the chevron tip, exploiting this relaxed stiffness; and the use of high-temperature SMA (HTSMA) materials to enable operation in the demanding core chevron environment.

The overall conclusion of these design studies was that the cut chevron concept is a critical enabling step in bringing the variable geometry core chevron within reach. The presence of the cut may be aerodynamically undesirable in some respects, but it is present only when the chevron is not immersed in the core jet exhaust. When deployed, the gap closes as the chevron tip enters the high-speed, high-temperature core stream. Aeroacoustic testing and flow visualization support the contention that this cut is inconsequential to chevron performance.

This work was done by Todd R. Quackenbush and Robert M. McKillip, Jr., of Continuum Dynamics, Inc. for Glenn Research Center.

Inquiries concerning rights for the commercial use of this invention should be addressed to NASA Glenn Research Center, Innovative Partnerships Office, Attn: Steve Fedor, Mail Stop 4–8, 21000 Brookpark Road, Cleveland, Ohio 44135. Refer to LEW-18416-1

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the February, 2011 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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