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 Tech of the Week
Each week we feature special technologies. Take a moment to view the other Tech of the Week articles, you may find one that meets a present need.
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 Tech of the Week

Vortex-ring cushion projector

Vehicle sits on counter-rotating air tori

An all-terrain, multi-role, hover-capable aircraft has a unique fuel-efficient, rugged, vertical take-off and hover propulsion system. A raised-height, dispersal-resistant hover cushion is projected over the ground by the device as two bisected concentric streams of rotating and counter-rotating torus flume rings.

In its stable and highly efficient hover role, the aircraft can operate at raised heights compared with a conventional hovercraft, able to clear trees and obstructions above terrain that would be prohibitive for a hovercraft. In low-speed flight role, a flying wing aircraft fitted with the device utilises the ground effect to provide enhanced stall-free lift onset with extended active leading- and trailing-edge wing surfaces, forming skirts. Applications are numerous, including efficient delivery platforms for heavy cargoes, such as water for irrigation and forest fire-fighting, and other payloads, with RPV potential for an eye-in-the-sky.

The vehicle works in a way similar to James Dyson’s cyclone vacuum cleaner, which sucks in dust and air relatively slowly but spins out the heavier dust particles more rapidly, retaining them at the bottom of its drum before ejecting the separated air. In the engine, however, the “dust” is actually added to the sucked-in air inside the “drum” as fuel vapour, mixing thoroughly into the spinning air, which is then ignited and accelerated whilst still spinning, expanding out of the open-tapered exhaust as a pulse of still-burning fuel-air. The stack of rings provides thrust from beyond the manifold, which means it doesn’t all have to be made very long and heavy, thereby saving valuable weight.

Because of the pulsed nature of the power delivery, the rate of vortex replenishment can be varied, creating the appearance of a standing wave, with vortical spin inertia maintaining lift during intermittent or interrupted power delivery. Sudden lift loss following catastrophic engine failure may also be minimised, improving the chances of conventional powered horizontal flight recovery or emergency landing with-or-without recourse to using the core thruster.

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