Aerodynamic interactions of non-planar rotors

UoM administered thesis: Phd

  • Authors:
  • Alexander Bennetts


Abstract of thesis submitted by Alexander Bennetts for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy entitled "Aerodynamic interactions of non-planar rotors" The aim of this thesis is to improve understanding of the effects of rotor-rotor interference on small scale rotor systems used on Micro Air Vehicles (MAVs). Previous research on rotor-rotor interactions has focused primarily on planar co-axial and tandem rotors of large scale rotorcraft. The work presented is distinct from prior research not only in its consideration of non-planar rotor systems, but also because of the lower Reynolds numbers and the use of fixed-pitch variable-speed propulsion systems. A design for a novel adjustable rotor interaction test-rig is presented along with a methodology for acquiring accurate and repeatable steady state performance data for two interacting rotor systems. Two six-axis force balances are used to acquire instantaneous and time averaged force and torque data and PIV is used to derive instantaneous and time-averaged flow field data for single and interacting rotor cases. The resulting performance and flow field data represents a unique dataset that can be used in the analysis of small scale rotor interactions, and in the validation of CFD investigations. Results show that for disc angles of between 180 degrees and 90 degrees interactions between rotors are negligible. As the disc angle is reduced from the orthogonal case to the coaxial case interactions significantly effect thrust, pitching moment, and efficiency. It is recommended that in the design of non-planar multirotor vehicles disc angles greater than 75 degrees are utilised to avoid the strong rotor-rotor interactions seen at lower disc angles. A review of existing and future non-planar multirotor concepts shows that the majority avoid significant rotor interactions by virtue of large disc angles.


Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Award date1 Aug 2019