Minnesota’s Patent of the Month – October 2020
Nobody likes turbulence when flying — that unpleasant, anxiety-inducing shake of the plane after the windows suddenly darken. We know that weather can affect the quality of a flight, but did you know the aerodynamics of a plane can be affected by something called supercooled large droplets (SLDs)? These are large droplets of water or rain that fall from multiple clouds and are cooled when temperatures are below freezing. They affect the aerodynamics when they hit the wings of a plane because they can get through the icing protection system. But what if encounters with those pesky SLDs could be reduced through radar detection? Rosemount Aerospace has developed just that: a radar detection system that picks up on ice.
The system involves sending out quasi-optical radiation (i.e., small infrared wavelengths) through radar transmissions to a cloud. The small wavelengths will be able to detect abnormal quantities of large droplets better than other detection systems. The transmission will then reflect off of a cloud and the crew can receive it and determine the attributes of the cloud. By using quasi-optical radiation, the plane’s optical ice detection system will be able to better identify SLDs that may have otherwise gone unnoticed. The pilot can then adjust the flight path depending on cloud conditions, avoiding SLDs that would affect the plane’s aerodynamics, reducing in-flight risks.
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