LuFo V-3 Project KoMMoD

Title: Composite-based multifunctional models for application in cryogenic wind tunnels
(Kompositbasierte Multifunktionale Modelle)

Leader: Airbus Deutschland GmbH, Partners: DLR e.V., ETW GmbH

The main goal of the KoMMod project is to improve the efficiency of wind tunnel tests in ETW, in particular those heading for controlling laminar-turbulent boundary layer transition to enhance environmentally friendly aircraft performance.

The project partners agreed to use carbon-fibre reinforced plastics (CFRP) to design and test a laminar half model under cryogenic conditions and flight relevant Reynolds numbers in ETW for the very first time. Commonly, metallic models are used in wind tunnels, particularly at ETW where special maraging steel to withstand cryogenic conditions and high model loads is required. At wind tunnels operated under ambient conditions some models parts made out of plastic or 3D-prints are already in use. The main advantage of these parts is their rapid availability and inexpensive acquisition. In contrast, cryogenic steel models are more expensive and must be manufactured well in advance. The advantage of CFRP models is the efficient lead-time and turn-around time of investigations at flight-relevant Reynolds and Mach numbers in ETW.

For the development of laminar wing geometries, cryogenic tests require procedures to visualize the laminar to turbulent boundary layer transition. At ETW, transition is currently visualized by an artificial temperature change between the model and the surrounding flow, which is initiated by reducing the injection of liquid nitrogen. This procedure influences the Reynolds number as well as the Mach number and generates test data that may need to be reworked. The KoMMod project is designed to improve this procedure and the need to make corrections to the transition data shall be drastically improved. The temperature change procedure will be replaced by an integrated heating system installed in to or on to the CFRP model.

Together with the project partners, a family of CFRP models will be designed to provide initial insight in to current manufacturing capabilities. Secondly, the measurement techniques will be applied and transferred to CFRP models before test data is collected on a laminar half model in ETW. An important aspect is the development of sensors to detect the transition areas on the models. Colleagues from DLR will further enhance hot-film sensors and temperature sensitive paint before implementing it in the CFRP model. Furthermore, deformation measurements with glass fibres will be integrated and shall provide the opportunity to measure both the shape and the vibration characteristics of the wing under load.

Fibre-composite materials are often used in serial production lines, but rarely in wind tunnel test models. On the one hand, extreme tolerances are defined for wind tunnel models used for flight-relevant investigations and on the other hand, the demand for modern and intelligent aircraft with adaptive wing geometries exists. The materials used for CFRP models are well suited for this topic as they are variable and their characteristics can be individually tailored. Within the KoMMod project, the concept showing camber adjustment for a modern intelligent wing, will be presented based on a demonstrator.

This work receives funding from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy LuFo V-3/2018-2021 under grant agreement no 20A1704C.

Research Projects Contact

The Manager Operations & Administration ensures, administers, and enhances efficient and effective operation of ETW. This task includes the initiation and advancement of research projects with ETW participation.


Manager Operations & Administration
Tel.: +49 (2203) 609-113

Main KoMMoD topics

Laminar testing and drag reduction

In order to save energy and fly eco-efficiently, the drag of an aircraft has to be minimal. The aircraft surface is partly covered by a so-called laminar low-drag boundary layer, and further downstream by a turbulent one. A promising concept to minimise drag is to delay the laminar-turbulent boundary-layer transition downstream, and to maximise laminar flow areas. The physics of the transition process strongly dependends on the inflow disturbances and the boundary layer above the aircraft surface. High Reynolds number wind tunnel tests at ETW can simulate the physics close to reality in a natural and well reproducible manner, and boundary-layer transition can be accurately located. KoMMoD will improve ETW's capabilities for laminar testing and supporting laminar aircraft design.

Productivity & costs efficiency

The integration of various techniques to measure aerodynamic and structural deformation properties in one model enhances ETW testing value for money. It allows multi-objective testing to accelerate future aircraft design. CFRP enables advanced aeroelastic tailoring of aircraft wings, and KoMMoD provides the basis to test such concepts at flight relevant conditions and model scale at ETW.