A new patent awarded to Razvan Rusovici, associate professor of aerospace engineering, is for an active material-based actuating system that controls the angle of attack for jet engine inlet guide and compressor vanes in turbojet engines. The system will help primarily to increase the performance of smaller turbine engines, where servo-hydraulic actuation cannot be readily implemented due to scaling of pertinent components. These smaller scale jet engines are currently employed in unmanned aerial vehicles and smaller aircraft.
Rusovici, a certified small UAS pilot and an airline transport pilot, has performed research on both UAV design and active-material applications for clients including the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. More than a decade ago, while working on active materials applications, he encountered and diagnosed compressor blade stall problems in jet engines owned by a client, and that was when the patent idea first came to him.
“The airflow into a jet engine must be as smooth as possible, and the inlet guide vanes must be at an optimal angle of attack,” Rusovici said. That optimal angle changes with operating conditions, so if it’s in a fixed position, it will not be as efficient for all flight regimes.”
Rusovici’s patented system will precisely adjust the angle of attack of the vanes in response to flight conditions. Five years later since the initial application, Rusovici hopes that the patent may help solve these performance issues for small and potentially larger jet engines.