Most recent edit:
Sunday December 01, 2013
* See legal note below.
Morphing WingSail Concept (active vacuum-bagged foam
A membrane bag in the general shape of a wing, filled with foam beads, can
be loosely shaped into a suitable airfoil and then fixed (drawn taught) by
pulling a partial vacuum. A partially embedded spar would comprise a
structural stiffening spine to step as a mast or use as a wing-root.
The shaping phase could be as basic as hand forming by trowelling strokes
or simple molding, for varied complex profiles to test or match to
conditions. Partial vacuum would allow sensitive trim-plasticity, before
"locking" the form. The shaping process is reversible by releasing the
vacuum. Many tricks can be devised to extend the basic capabilities,
including live-morphing during operation (like tacking the sail camber to
port or starboard). Internal airbags could actuate trim inputs.
Wingsails on this principle could be light and robust. Most mishaps would
be fully corrected by just patching holes and/or resetting the form.
CC BY NC SA
In response to DaveC's call for a DIY wingsail pattern-language, the
vacuum-bead method emerged as an option. Lets call this unusual structural
material "Vacutanium". The term is hereby reserved to the public domain as
a generic descriptor.
Vacutanium is "programmable matter" with the potential to make vast
ultralight structures. Vacuum-packed beads jam together to form tough
rigid structure in most any shape desired. Its an interesting study to
compare with known inflated structure, with complementary properties and
composite synergies (like airbags as giant beads in megascale
vacuum-bags). Vacutanium absorbs excess loadings and impact forces by
deforming reversibly. To reconfigure a form, just relax the vacuum and
An attractive source of plastic beads are the ocean "trash gyres". Beads
mined from this waste should earn subsidies. Large floating cities of
Vacutanium might be enabled. A ready source of experimental membranes are
the well-known vacuum bags to compact and store knitted goods. Foam
packing "peanuts" and crumbled foams of many kinds are easy to salvage as
beads. Larger heatsealed polythene membranes could be a basis for
"instant" curaches, pirogues, and even wingsails.
CC BY NC SA
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