The research team at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory has been working on developing toroidal propellers for multicopter drones. They found that the twisted-toroid shape of the propellers effectively distributes the vortices that are generated by the propeller across the whole shape of it, instead of just at the tip. This makes the vortices dissipate faster in the atmosphere, resulting in much less noise pollution.
The toroidal propellers also showed significant efficiency gains, with the team’s best-performing B160 design not only operating quieter, but also with significantly more thrust at any set energy input level. This is significant given the early stage of development of these toroidal propellors.
In the marine sector, these propellers can be used on boats, ships and submarines. The twisted-toroid shape of the propellers creates a much smoother flow of water, resulting in less drag and more efficient propulsion. This means that boats and ships using toroidal propellers would consume less fuel and produce less emissions, making them more environmentally friendly.
Overall, toroidal propellers are a promising technology that could have a significant impact on the aviation and marine sectors. The potential for noise reduction, efficiency gains, and environmental benefits make them a technology worth watching in the future.
Image Credit: MIT, Sharrow Marine