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KU Center for Technology Commercialization

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  • Ron Barrett-Gonzalez



Project TitlePressure Adaptive Honeycomb for Aircraft
Track Code10KU005L
Short Description

This invention describes adaptive structures based on conventional, certified aerospace materials for use in aircraft

Tagsaerospace equipment, Aircraft Honeycomb
Posted DateSep 3, 2013 12:41 PM


Ron Barrett-Gonzalez


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.


  • The unique morphing properties of PAH 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.

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 23/25, 27/29

Contact Information

Nathan W. Urbauer, J.D. 

KU Center for Technology Commercialization (785) 864-7871

Intellectual Property

Patent Number Issue Date Type Country of Filing
12/843255 None Utility United States

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