Fan Matrix

Mesoscale fan array

Fan Matrix
Image from John Edds
Larger than fancloth rotors, fan matrix motors can deliver higher thrust
A Fan Matrix is a lift and propulsive technology for aerodyne aircraft that generates the required thrust using numerous mesoscale turbines instead of one or a few larger ones. This is done for several reasons. In the event of multiple simultaneous turbine failures a craft can continue to fly until it is safe to land. Some fan matrix designs have sufficient power that over 85% of their turbines can fail and the craft can remain aloft. The design made primeval helicopter swashplate mechanisms obsolete; this not only greatly increased reliability and safety, but drastically reduced required maintenance. Helicopter rotors have an upper limit on their diameter, and thus the lift that they can generate. A fan matrix can have an arbitrary area (telescoping landing gear is distributed across the bottom of large matrix grids.)

Fan matrix turbines rarely exceed five meters in diameter, and are typically between 2.5 meters and 10 cm in diameter. Large area fan matrices are connected to their payload by numerous tensile lines. They thus operate in a similar manner to fancloth paracopters.

Fan matrices are similar in form and operation to fancloth, but there are several significant differences between them. Fancloth is flexible, like cloth (hence the name) and requires a support framework or an active stiffening system. Fan matrices on the other hand are inherently stiff on the decimeter or larger scale. Airflow through fancloth is laminar, or close to it. Airflow through fan matrices is turbulent even with the best logarithmic turbine designs. The ratio of thrust-per-unit area is much higher in fan matrices than fancloth. Fancloth is designed to be low-thrust and quiet. Fan matrices are designed to generate high thrust, which must generate significant decibels, and they are usually equipped with acoustic phased-array antisound systems. Fan matrices can be modular; individual fan cells (a coaxial turbine design is required) can fly autonomously and link together in the air with power reactor units to form matrices of the required size for ultra-heavy lifting.
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Text by John EddsInitially published on 26 January 2016.