Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Propeller design rethought

Most manufacturers design propellers in the same way and they read the old books and reports and the prop gets no more than 80-85% efficiency at best. It is written in books that propeller efficiency will be about that at best and it is left often open how low it can be at worst.

Here is an interesting article about a guy that made a prop that was 90 percent efficient by not abiding the "old truths" but thinking out of the box:

Having a strong taper certainly makes sense since the propeller tip travels very much faster than the root through the air. Also the old saying that single blade prop is most efficient does not make sense if you think it in detail: the air that enters in the next blade is not the same air that went through the previous blade because of the forward movement of the aircraft. This could be extrapolated in a such way, that the faster the aircraft travels, the more blades the propeller can have without sacrificing the propeller efficiency. This should not actually require very high mathematics, but I am quite sure that it could be estimated with simple calculations where the downwash of the previous blade goes in relation to the next blade on the speed range intended for the aircraft being designed.

High altitude propeller will require some additional thinking for the tip chord because the Reynolds number will become low if the chord is this short. The TAS is much higher at high altitude, therefore the air travels faster through the prop, that would mean that the prop could have more blades. The high altitude propeller does not require full efficiency at low altitude because to be able to operate at high altitude, there needs to be a lots of excess thrust available regardless.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

High altitude flight Re, new airfoil KS415/14.3

The Reynolds number at very high altitude is very low. Here is an article about airfoil study for 60000 ft altitude flight. My previous airfoils are not very suitable in a small aircraft at 60000 ft, they require longer chord to be efficient. I made series of new airfoils for short chord and high altitude and ended up with the KS415/14.3.

altitude = 20000 m
velocity = 80 m/s
wing chord = 0.8 m (80 cm)
Re = 396331.94
M = 0.2711

Therefore it is beneficial that the airfoil used in this kind of aircraft is such that provides maximum L/D at low Re, here around 400000.

Here are some simulations:

Then some airfoils that I created:


More simulation at low Re, two conditions: 80 m/s at 600000 ft and 111 m/s (400 km/h) at 60000 ft:

Added case 154 m/2 (300 kts) at 60000 ft:

Of these, the KS415 exhibits the lowest drag. Here is the geometry of the KS415:

Here is a smoothed version of KS415/14.3:

And simulation for a Reynolds number range: