Back in the first post on this blog, I posted a video regarding misconceptions in aerodynamics. Somewhere around the second half of the video, a device is discussed that could ‘eat away’ the vorticity at the wingtips to prevent vortices from forming. The creation of these vortices is caused by induced drag and is happens when air flows from the low pressure area to the high pressure area over the wingtip, creating a circular motion, causing the air to spiral.
However, in the video itself, the lector is vague around the design of such device. A few weeks ago at the JEC fair in Paris, I actually came across a company that had developed such a device and claimed to have gotten significant results of up to 6% net gain usage of the entire plane. It is interesting to see that, a technology that was deemed useless, suddenly shows up with pretty good results. There are some remarks that have to be made when looking at the results.
For example, the pathlines shown on their website are only the ones closest to the wing, so it’s not certain if the entire vortex has been eliminated or only the small part directly at the wingtip. So it’s hard to draw conclusions from this. Secondly, the technology was shown on many fairs, starting from 2003. More than 10 years later, the technology still hasn’t been applied to modern airplanes. If this technology is really that good, why hasn’t it been used already?