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UBIQ Aerospace and Mejzlik Propellers partner to develop ice protection solution for propellers


Ice accretion on the propeller in an icing wind tunnel. Photo: Richard Hann, UBIQ Aerospace

30.03.2021


UBIQ Aerospace and Mejzlik Propellers have launched a collaboration to develop an ice protection solution for unmanned aircraft (UAV) propellers.


UBIQ Aerospace is a Norway-based startup company and the provider of D•ICE, a ground-breaking ice protection solution for UAVs. Czech-based Mejzlik has been developing and manufacturing high-quality propellers since 1974 and is a leading provider for the UAV industry.


– The scope is to create a propeller that incorporates some of our proprietary technologies and leverages the considerable competencies of Mejzlik in propeller design and manufacturing. The objective is to provide an ice protected propeller for sustained flight in atmospheric icing conditions, said Kim Lynge Sørensen, founder and CEO of UBIQ Aerospace.


Previously, the development efforts of UBIQ Aerospace have been focusing on ice protection for aerodynamic surfaces. However, an ambition to solve icing for the UAS and UAM industry in its entirety requires an equal focus on propellers and exposed sensors. Entering into a collaboration with Mejzlik will see the first adaptation of existing proprietary technological concepts and novel ones to be integrated and used concerning propellers.


Mejzlik Propellers is a fast developing company with a clear vision to become no. 1 in the UAV propeller market.


– We understand that in order to become no. 1, we need to be very flexible in terms of taking on new projects which are based on the UAV market’s requirements. Collaborating on the ice protection solution with UBIQ Aerospace has given us the opportunity to look closer into the icing issue, which has been an ongoing problem for many of our customers, said Jan Hruska, VP of sales at Mejzlik Propellers.


– We want to make sure our propellers stay efficient in all weather conditions and when UBIQ had briefed us on their unique ice protection solutions, we knew that this was a project we wanted to be a part of, said Jan Hruska.



The propeller test stand inside the icing wind tunnel. Photo: Richard Hann, UBIQ Aerospace


The collaboration between UBIQ and Mejzlik started with Nicolas Müller and his work on his master's thesis at the University of Stuttgart, where he studied icing on propellers. Mejzlik provided the propellers that were used in early icing wind tunnel experiments. Müller is extending his work in his Ph.D. research at UBIQ and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.


Preliminary results from his research show that the fast rotation of UAV propellers makes them very sensitive to icing. Experiments conducted in an icing wind tunnel showed that icing reduced the propeller's performance by up to 40% within the first minute. Ice building on propellers also carries an additional hazard. It can break off asymmetrically on individual propeller blades, causing instability and considerable vibrations that could be disastrous for the aircraft.


– To provide a complete solution that will protect the whole aircraft from icing, we need to protect the propeller. With the collaboration we have started with Mejzlik, we are taking the next necessary steps towards a holistic ice protection solution, said Kim Lynge Sørensen.


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