Multifunctional Composites for Fly-By-Feel Autonomous Electric Vehicles
It is envisioned that the next generation aerospace vehicles will be eco-friendly and designed towards being fully autonomous and highly intelligent to achieve optimal performance with highest safety assurance for all operational conditions. The vehicles will be equipped with high-resolution state-sensing and self-awareness capabilities to diagnose their health and operating states on a real-time basis, mimicking the sensory skins of biological systems and enabling "fly-by-feel" capabilities. In addition, the vehicles will be powered by hybrid or electric propulsion systems using energy provided by advanced high-energy batteries. Therefore, the sensing system must be able to process "big" sensor data and monitor/diagnose the actual conditions with advanced diagnostic tools and data processing methods. This requires distributed networks of sensors and microprocessors to be integrated with the vehicles to enable real-time state awareness and health monitoring. The development of the complete battery-powered vehicles will also involve extreme light-weighting to sustain high mobility. Integration of such highly distributed intelligent sensor network systems with a large amount of batteries would create significant technical challenges involving integration of materials, sensors, electronics, batteries, software, network wiring, etc. Based on the current state-of-the-art design and fabrication methods, the current approaches are not adequate to address these challenges to provide reliable and cost-effective solutions.
In this presentation, a new class of multifunctional composites is introduced, which is built upon the structural health monitoring technology that has been studied extensively by the author and his research team. A vision will be presented to demonstrate the feasibility of deploying innovative bio-inspired flexible, stretchable sensors/actuators/electronics networks into composites with embedded lithium-ion batteries to form a completely integrated system. Utilizing novel microfabrication methods, the sensor networks can be stretched to span an area that is several orders of magnitude larger than the original as-fabricated footprint, and then embedded into composite structures. The fly-by-feel technology concept is successfully demonstrated in real-time in a wind tunnel experiment on a composite wing with integrated sensor networks. Additionally, to enable energy storage capabilities, a novel interlocking fabrication technique is developed to seamlessly integrate lithium-ion batteries in composites without sacrificing the structural integrity of the host while maintaining the energy capacity and electrical performance of the original battery materials. At the same time, the health of the integrated batteries can be monitored simultaneously using the built-in sensor networks in the composites. Prototypes of the multifunctional energy-storage composites are fabricated and demonstrate the feasibility of providing up to 40% weight savings on the combined battery and structural weight of existing commercial electric vehicles.
Contact: Mallory Neet firstname.lastname@example.org