Next-generation Urban Air Mobility vehicles will require All Weather Capability, including flight into known icing conditions. Ice or frost build-up on propeller surfaces decreases aerodynamic efficiency, resulting in loss of lift when even a small amount of ice builds on rotor-blade surfaces. This can lead to the loss of the aircraft in just minutes. Electrically powered quad-copters have no viable ice protection options today, primarily due to power and weight limitations.
IDI proposes development of a Low Power Anti-Icing System specific for short range, short endurance UAM missions. The proposed approach will feature a fast response icing sensor combined with a unique Rechargeable Rotor-Blade Anti-Icing System utilizing smart materials and embedded energy storage components that can be pre-charged independent of the UAM main battery pack. Unique to this design is the ability to wirelessly recharge the rotor de-ice system at electric vehicle docking stations using inductive coupling during scheduled UAM battery pack recharge cycles.
During the Phase I Program IDI will develop a rechargeable ice protection system design and power management strategy. A prototype will be demonstrated in the Penn State AERTS Rotor Blade Icing Test Facility. Phase II will continue the development and test on a full scale UAM.
This research supports NASA’s goal to develop icing hazard mitigation technologies necessary for integrating UAS into the National Airspace System. The resulting system could be used to help support various ongoing icing research programs in the NASA Glenn Icing Tunnel and on NASA’s Icing Research Aircraft.
The Low Power Anti-Icing System can be applied on commercial quad-copter propellers for flight in instrument meteorological conditions. A wireless rechargeable deicer could be sold as a self-contained feature of next generation propellers. The low-power light-weight requirements give it a significant market advantage over current systems.