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Posted May 31, 2012

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Innovation

Birth Of A Technology: Whirl Tower Unveiling

Ottawa - Carleton has announced the unveiling of the whirl tower facility housed at the National Research Council (NRC) campus on Montreal Road. This new facility will enable the testing of innovative technology, including the new stiffness control concept with active pitch link technology. This technology, created by Carleton’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, changes the root boundary condition of each blade. This new device, the size of a pen, is called an active pitch link. It reduces vibration not by dampening it, but by redistributing energy.

Nine years ago, the Rotorcraft Research Group (RRG) at Carleton University had a vision for a unique stiffness control concept for reducing helicoptervibrations. After many years of hard work, securing almost $1.5 million in research funding and graduating about 30 research students, the group has achieved its goal. The RRG is now ready and able to demonstrate – for the first time in the world – that its unique stiffness control concept works.

This new technology reduces rotor vibration by about 80 per cent and has the potential to also reduce noise. It increases helicopter performance, safety and comfort and improves the working and travel environment of the cockpit.

"It is very rewarding to see that the concept we have envisioned works in practice, that a back-of-a-napkin sketch can indeed be transformed to an actual technology,” said Daniel Feszty, associate professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. “The skills we have developed during this process, as well as the experimental facility we have built here, are state-of-the-art and will enable us to make original contributions to rotorcraft research on a daily basis. Experimental research of stiffness control is a totally unexplored territory and whatever direction we take, it will lead us to new, original results."

The whirl tower is the only one of its kind in Canada and is necessary to support experimental rotor programs. The tower mimics the rotating blade of a helicopter and is made up of a single carbon fibre blade and a counterweight. Centrifugal testing for this kind of technology is a necessary step before tests can begin in a wind tunnel environment. The next steps in the evolution of this technology willrely heavily on the NRC, which has the state-of-the-art infrastructure to enable wind-tunnel testing as well as to guide the product through to certification.



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