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Open AccessArticle

Performance Characterization of the UAV Chemical Application Based on CFD Simulation

School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Jilin University, Changchun 130022, China
Jilin Academy of Agricultural Machinery, Changchun 130062, China
Water Management and Systems Research Unit, USDA-ARS, Fort Collins, CO 80526, USA
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Agronomy 2019, 9(6), 308;
Received: 14 May 2019 / Revised: 1 June 2019 / Accepted: 11 June 2019 / Published: 12 June 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing Applications for Agriculture and Crop Modelling)
Battery-powered multi-rotor UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) have been employed as chemical applicators in agriculture for small fields in China. Major challenges in spraying include reducing the influence of environmental factors and appropriate chemical use. Therefore, the objective of this research was to obtain the law of droplet drift and deposition by CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics), a universal method to solve the fluid problem using a discretization mathematical method. DPM (Discrete Phase Model) was taken to simulate the motion of droplet particles since it is an appropriate way to simulate discrete phase in flow field and can track particle trajectory. The figure of deposition concentration and trace of droplet drift was obtained by controlling the variables of wind speed, pressure, and spray height. The droplet drifting models influenced by different factors were established by least square method after analysis of drift quantity to get the equation of drift quantity and safe distance. The relationship model, Yi(m), between three dependent variables, wind speed Xw(m s−1), pressure Xp(MPa) and spray height Xh(m), are listed as follows: The edge drift distance model was Y1 = 0.887Xw + 0.550Xp + 1.552Xh − 3.906 and the correlation coefficient (R2) was 0.837; the center drift distance model was Y2 = 0.167Xw + 0.085Xp + 0.308Xh − 0.667 and the correlation coefficient (R2) was 0.774; the overlap width model was Y3 = 0.692xw + 0.529xp + 1.469xh − 3.374 and the correlation coefficient (R2) was 0.795. For the three models, the coefficients of the three variables were all positive, indicating that the three factors were all positively correlated with edge drift distance, center drift distance, and overlap width. The results of this study can provide theoretical support for improving the spray quality of UAV and reducing the drift of droplets. View Full-Text
Keywords: UAV chemical application; droplet drift; flat-fan atomizer; simulation analysis; control variables UAV chemical application; droplet drift; flat-fan atomizer; simulation analysis; control variables
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Zhu, H.; Li, H.; Zhang, C.; Li, J.; Zhang, H. Performance Characterization of the UAV Chemical Application Based on CFD Simulation. Agronomy 2019, 9, 308.

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