Blade Design in Ducted Fans is More Important Than You Think


Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) or drones are all the rage, with businesses from Amazon to Domino’s conducting research into using the aircraft to complete deliveries. Utilizing UAVs for these types of serious applications, though, requires precision technology. On today’s Software and Technology Podcast, Daniel Schübeler, founder of Schübeler Technologies, discussed how electric ducted fans (EDFs) and their blade design provide the propulsion necessary to give enterprise UAVs liftoff.

Unlike an exposed propeller, EDFs feature blades mounted inside a fan. Schübeler explained that the design of the blades is critical in making them efficient enough to carry large payloads for a long time.

“It’s important to get the aerodynamics right,” he said, elaborating that proper aerodynamic design yields high thrust with low power input, generating longer flight times.

While some customers turn to EDFs because they look cool, the efficiency benefits are what motivate their applications and design; Schübeler said that his personal motivation in engineering the technology relates to increased safety and reliability compared to open propellers.

“Our goal is definitely to go to zero failures,” he said. Achieving this requires enhanced engineering methods, proper calculations, simulations, predictions, and substantial testing efforts.

Those seeking to deploy drones using EDFs must understand that the off-the-shelf commercial variety has limitations. That’s why customers turn to him for a product with the optimal pitch, blade count, diameter, weight, and balance that best matches their UAV’s airframe.

“We can give people a much higher efficiency,” Schübeler said.

Even the smallest error in an aerodynamic system can cause a loss of 30% to 40% efficiency. By designing EDFs that optimize energy use, Schübeler said his company is accelerating green aviation. His goal is to make battery electric flying platforms good enough to fulfill serious enterprise missions.

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