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Not Available Technology in Blacksburg (Techsburg) is proposing an innovative method to reduce inlet distortion and improve the performance of propulsion systems in unmanned air vehicles (UAVs). These vehicles (as well as other tactical aircraft) use serpentine inlets to improve the stealth characteristics of the plane. Unfortunately, these serpentine ducts cause flow separation and increase the distortion at the engine and reduce its stability and performance. In this research program, fluidic actuators will be used for active flow control to prevent flow separation in serpentine gas turbine inlet ducts. Miniature ejector pumps, operated by bleeding high-pressure air from the engine, will provide boundary layer suction and blowing near the separation-prone areas in the inlet. An innovative approach of using MEMS-based microphones flush-mounted on the internal surface of the inlet to detect separated flow will be used to provide the error signal for the controller. Active control will then be used to operate miniature ejector pumps to ensure that the section/blowing scheme is most efficiently applied and that the maximum system benefit can be achieved. Recent experiments at Techsburg have demonstrated that boundary layer suction near separation-prone areas on gas turbine stator vanes can reduce the flow separation and the losses across the blade by as much as 40 percent. In addition, personnel at Techsburg have coupled active control with MEMS-based microvalves to reduce high-cycle fatigue (HCF) in gas turbine engines. Noise reductions of 10 dB were recorded. Using active flow control in UAV inlets will significantly improve the engine performance that can lead to improved speed, maneuverability, range, and survivability.
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