Pressure Adaptive Honeycomb Aerostructure Material

Track Code: 

The invention is a novel adaptive aero structure based on conventional, certified aerospace materials.


-The unique morphing properties of PAH (pressure adaptive honeycomb) are applicable to any structure that uses propellers, turbines, rotors, or sails including aero-structures, ground vehicles, and wind turbines.
-If the honeycomb system is placed within aircraft structures, it can be used as a substitute for conventional low-bandwidth flight control actuators.
- PAH can be used to create local curvatures in plates or, alternatively, straighten initially curved plates.
- PAH can be built into wing, flap, canard, stabilizer, and winglet structures, and can be used in both the leading edge and the trailing edge of wing structures.

How it works: 

This structure relies on a grid of conventional, hexagonal honeycomb cells that extend over a significant length perpendicular to the plane of the cells. Inside each of the cells resides a pouch which can be inflated. By varying the cell differential pressure, the overall stiffness of the pressurized honeycomb can be varied. By doing so, a fully embedded pneumatic actuator is created.


Pressure-adaptive honeycomb has significant benefits with respect to conventional (electromechanical) actuators. There are no sliding or hinging parts which means there is no wear and tear through operation. Manufacturing, assembly, and integration into conventional wing structures are all straightforward and can rely on conventional techniques and certified materials. In terms of compliance it has been estimated based on prior experiments on conventional honeycombs that strains in excess of 50% can be achieved in either principal direction.

Why it is better: 

-Reduction of part count, complexity, power consumption, and cost of conventional high-lift devices

-Lighter, faster, and less costly than conventional aircraft actuation systems

-Self-diagnostic, self-repair capability

-Certifiable under FAR

Licensing Associate: 
Michael Patterson, JD · · 785-864-6397
Ronald Barrett
Roelof Vos
US 8,366,057