Aerospace Structures

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Our group investigates the exploitation of distributed properties of smart materials and structures in the design of novel adaptive systems.

Our research is concerned with the exploitation of the distributed properties of structural and smart material components for realising novel behaviours in adaptive structures. We optimise the spatial distribution of structural, actuation and sensing materials for achieving an optimal response across a wide range of operational scenarios and tasks. This is obtained following a highly multi-disciplinary design and optimisation methodology, which allows us to fully exploit the potential of adaptive structures and multi-functionality in applications ranging from: morphing structures, energy harvesting, and highly structurally integrated distributed actuation and sensing systems.

Research Projects

Multidisciplinary Design and Optimization of Morphing Wings for Airborne Wind Energy Applications

The project Aerodynamic and Structural Analysis and Optimization of Morphing Wings for Airborne Wind Energy Applications investigates different approaches to morphing of aerospace structures and its applicability to airborne wind energy (AWE) systems.
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ALTAIR – Air Launch space Transportation system using an Automated aircraft and an Innovative Rocket

This research, in the framework of the ALTAIR European project for a lightweight innovative satellite launcher, is aimed at developing the structural components of the launch vehicle. Our focus is to develop optimized lightweight structural concepts produced with tailored manufacturing processes, and to design innovative non-pyrotechnic separations techniques.
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Variable stiffness wing structures with compliance for aeroelastic morphing

This project investigates the implementation of variable stiffness buckling components embedded in compliant wing structures to achieve aeroelastically aided morphing. Such compliant structures offer great potential in terms of actuation and complexity reduction for morphing applications.
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Research Projects - Concluded

Selective Compliance Aerofoils with Variable Stiffness Multi-stable Elements for Morphing Applications

A concurrent design and optimisation methodology was developed, aimed at a shape-adaptable solution addressing the conflicting requirements of morphing through the concept of stiffness variability. The distinct stiffness properties of each equilibrium configuration of bi-stable laminates strategically embedded within the distributed topology of compliant aerofoils were exploited to achieve global shape adaptation.
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Passive Load Alleviation Morphing Airfoils for Wind Turbine Blades

Passive Morphing  
Passive Morphing

The aim of this project was to develop morphing airfoils incorporating passive variable stiffness components to achieve alleviation of aerodynamic loads on wind turbine blades allowing for upscaling of current designs resulting in more efficient operation.
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Morphing Wing Based on Compliant Ribs

The project had the goal of further developing and improving a morphing concept based on shape adaptive compliant ribs, which are able to properly change (morph) their shape in order to produce the desired change of the aerodynamic performances.

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Smart Airfoil

The strategic goal of this collaborative project is to establish a new, highly interdisciplinary research program in the field of adaptive structural systems. Shape adaption is applied to an aircraft airfoil. Yet findings will provide scientific fundament for many other applications.
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Multidisciplinary Optimization of Morphing Wings with Distributed Compliance and Smart Actuation

This research program focuses on adaptive structural systems with the goal of applying shape adaptation techniques to an aircraft aerofoil. Overall performance and efficiency is improved and, using embedded actuators, there is the potential of reducing the complexity compared to existing solutions.

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Monolithic Morphing Wing

The project dealt with the development and prototypic implementation of a fully monolithic morphing wing based on the technology of compliant mechanisms. As compared to a conventional wing, the morphing wing is capable to adapt the profile camber under given limits in a controlled way.
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Smart Compliant Structures with Enhanced Functionalities

This project dealt with compliant, hingeless structures for shape control. Compliant structure or compliant mechanism will be given increasing significance in future considering their potential for reduction of stress concentration and intrinsic multi-functionalities.
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Development of a Shell-like Electroactive Polymer (EAP) Actuator

The aim of this work was to build a shell-like, large-scale, dielectric electroactive polymer actuator, which has the capability to take a given surface shape. Further the surface shape should be maintained by a control system even under the influence of external forces.
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