Kingsley Nwosu

MIT Department: Aeronautics and Astronautics

Undergraduate Institution: Saint Leo University

Faculty Mentor: Steven Barrett

Research Supervisor: Haofeng Xu

2018 Research Poster


I was born and raised in New Jersey but currently live in Chesapeake, Virginia. I am a rising Senior Computer Science major and Mathematics minor at Saint Leo University, Florida. My past research experiences include spending a summer at the Virginia Tech Network Dynamics and Simulation Science Laboratory, with the goal of developing an optimization framework for effective stockpile allocation during epidemics. My research interests include of high-performance computing, big data analysis, algorithm analysis and design, and system simulation.

2018 Research Abstract

Experimental Characterization of Electro-Aerodynamic Propulsion Devices

Kingsley Nwosu1, Haofeng Xu2, Yiou He3, Steven Barrett4

1Department of Computer Science and Information Systems, Saint Leo University

2.4Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

3Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology            

Electro-aerodynamic (EAD) devices use high voltage to create electrical fields which ionize atmospheric air and accelerate the ions, producing a thrust force. This achieves propulsion that is solid state, nearly silent, and produces no greenhouse gas emissions. Previous work has used parametric experimentation to characterize the physics of corona discharge EAD devices and has shown the feasibility of achieving powered flight of airplanes using these corona discharge devices. However, these corona discharge devices were limited in performance. A new method of EAD propulsion has been proposed which uses dielectric barrier discharges (DBD) to ionize the air, which could improve efficiency (thrust-to-power ratio) and thrust per unit area (thrust density). Current analytical tools cannot adequately gather and analyze the most important variables at play during experiments with alternate EAD configurations, which hampers our ability to determine the performance of these DBD devices. Here we create the tools needed to analyze the next-generation EAD technologies. We start by creating a multithreaded control program that allows the user to manipulate and gather data from numerous hardware tools, of which includes a temperature probe, webcam, and a high voltage ac power supply. We present preliminary results gathered using these tools which show encouraging performance improvements from DBD ionization. We then use FEMM, a 2-D electrostatic finite element solver, to simulate numerous EAD geometries in order to determine which ones can yield higher electric field intensity, a parameter that correlates strongly with the thrust. The simulation results will pave the way for the optimization of the next-generation EAD thruster design.