Xeriant, Inc., a new aerospace technology holding company, announced that it has signed a letter of intent to form a joint venture with CoFlow Jet, LLC, a leading innovator in the field of high-performance airfoils, to further develop and commercialize CoFlow’s revolutionary active flow control airfoil technology, which promises to dramatically improve the lift capability and cruise efficiency of fixed wing aircraft. This innovation stands to play a key role in the nascent eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing) aircraft segment, projected to reach $1.5 trillion by 2040, based on a 2019 Morgan Stanley report.
An emerging field of fluid dynamics, active flow control (AFC) in aircraft applications is the on-demand manipulation of airflow around aircraft structures. AFC techniques are generally aimed at reconfiguring airflow over the surface of the aircraft, which can have a substantial effect on flight performance. Augmenting lift, reducing drag, and removing or delaying flow separation at low energy expenditure will significantly boost overall aircraft performance with greater efficiency and noise suppression.
CoFlow’s patented AFC technology is specifically focused on altering the airflow characteristics of the most fundamental element enabling flight, the aircraft wing, and has the potential to significantly increase the mission productivity and efficiency of aircraft, and remove or replace conventional wing control surfaces such as flaps, slats and ailerons. As a unique technology, CoFlow’s robust, energy-efficient and reliable AFC actuation system produces the control authority needed to enhance wing aerodynamic performance throughout the entire flight regime, including takeoff, climb, cruise, descent, landing and maneuvers.
“Our company is tremendously impressed with Dr. Zha and his team’s commitment to revolutionizing aircraft wing design and the aviation industry. CoFlow’s disruptive airfoil technology represents a generational breakthrough and will transform the aerodynamic capabilities of fixed wing aircraft. Xeriant has been in discussions with CoFlow over the past year, and this LOI is an important step in furthering our relationship. We anticipate having a definitive JV agreement within the next few weeks,” stated Xeriant CEO, Keith Duffy.
The CoFlow AFC airfoil utilizes powerful, energy efficient wing-embedded micro-compressor actuators to inject pressurized air over the wing surface through a suction and injection system. To create the desired circulation and momentum, a small amount of air is suctioned at the wing’s trailing edge, energized, and injected tangentially at the leading edge. Wind tunnel tests and CFD simulations have demonstrated that CoFlow’s AFC airfoil creates a super-suction effect due to extremely low leading edge pressure, achieving an unprecedented stall angle of attack of 70 degrees or more, while typical airfoils reach maximum lift in the range of 15 to 18 degrees.
Among the benefits of a fully integrated aircraft with CoFlow’s AFC airfoil system are increased mission efficiency, augmented lift, reduced drag, better maneuverability, vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL), extremely short takeoff and landing (ESTOL) distance, low speed flight, noise reduction, improved high-altitude performance, faster takeoff and climb, less mechanical complexity, longer flight range, slower landing approach speeds, reduced structure weight, smaller control surfaces, decreased operating costs and a heavier payload. Electrically-powered aircraft, which need to be fully optimized for efficiency due to the low energy density of batteries, will particularly benefit from this technology.
CoFlow’s AFC airfoil technology was developed over a period of 15 years by Dr. Gecheng Zha, Professor and Director of Aerodynamics and CFD Lab at the University of Miami’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. A NASA NIAC Fellow, ASME Fellow and AIAA Associate Fellow, Dr. Zha was recently recognized as one of the World’s Top 2% of Scientists in Aerospace and Aeronautics for 2020 based on the standardized citation metrics organized by Stanford University.
A strong proponent of green aviation, Dr. Zha has collaborated with DARPA, NASA, NSF and the U.S. Air Force on AFC as well as other projects over his impressive career, including the Mars Mission. Dr. Zha has also designed two innovative electric V/STOL (vertical and/or short takeoff and landing) aircraft concepts which incorporate CoFlow’s AFC airfoil technology. Upon completion of its AFC airfoil development, plan for integration, and FAA certification, CoFlow will begin commercialization, most likely through licensing arrangements with aircraft manufacturers.
“We look forward to securing the necessary funding to complete the development of our technology and bring it to market. CoFlow’s superior technology will become an integral component of future aircraft, as the industry moves toward reducing its carbon footprint,” commented CoFlow President and Founder, Gecheng Zha, PhD.