Aerospace Design and Structures

Researchers extend the boundaries for integration and application of multidisciplinary design optimization

The Multidisciplinary Design Optimization Technical Committee provides a forum for those active in development, application and teaching of a formal design methodology based on the integration of disciplinary analyses and sensitivity analyses, optimization and artificial intelligence.

From January through July, researchers at the University of Michigan developed an aeropropulsive high-bypass turbofan model that integrates one-dimensional thermodynamic cycle modeling and computational fluid dynamics within Mphys, a multiphysics library built on top of the OpenMDAO computer program created by NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Ohio. The multifidelity turbofan model enables gradient-based aeropropulsive design optimization including the nacelle shape, flow path geometry and thermodynamics. This is a developmental milestone for aeropropulsive design optimization using gradient-based aerodynamic shape optimization with a model that couples computational fluid dynamics with one-dimensional cycle analysis for a full turbofan configuration.

In June, a team of NASA and Caltech researchers finalized a rank statistics-based multifidelity global sensitivity analysis, or GSA, method that does not depend on the number of model parameters. The model provided a computational cost reduction of about two orders of magnitude compared to traditional GSA when applied to the integrated model of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope.

In July, Airbus and the University of Michigan concluded a five-year research effort that created novel methods for optimizing very flexible, high-aspect-ratio wings. The research included approaches for handling models of variable complexity while considering nonlinear dynamic aeroelasticity.

In August, the University of Illinois, in collaboration with Delaware-based Samara Aerospace, used MDO and breakthrough methods in holistic physics-aware packaging and routing optimization in advancing Multifunctional Structures for Attitude Control. MSAC is a new class of spacecraft control systems that use intelligent flexible deployable panels as attitude control actuators. Working with NASA, the researchers applied the Analytical Target Cascading method to perform trade studies on NASA’s lift-plus-cruise electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft.

Several software updates were released throughout the year. The Multiscale, Multiphysics Design Optimization Laboratory at the University of California, San Diego released ParaLeSTO, an open-source topology optimization software package in September. Enabled by recent advances in generalized architectures for multidisciplinary topology optimization, the software can help solve multiphysics design problems via a range of computational solvers and optimization methods. Demonstrated use cases include the design of multifunctional structures as well as complex nonlinear materials systems. 

In July, the Probabilistic Mechanics Laboratory at the University of Central Florida and NASA’s Prognosis Center of Excellence published an open-source code for hybrid physics-informed neural network modeling. The implementation models the charge and health of lithium-ion batteries via physics-informed and data-driven layers within one deep neural network and was validated against experimental data made available by NASA.

In August, NASA released OpenMDAO version 3.2 with upgraded algorithms for efficient gradient calculation in distributed computing environments with improved visualization tools. These capabilities have been particularly useful for the Mphys library, built on top of OpenMDAO, which was released under open-source license in June. OpenMDAO and Mphys workshops were held in October at NASA Glenn. 

In June, the AIAA MDO Technical Committee hosted a Multifidelity Modeling Workshop at the Aviation forum and shared recent methods developments with the MDO practitioner community. Tutorials were held along with a discussion of emerging challenges and research opportunities.

In September, the NATO Science and Technology Organization’s Applied Vehicle Technologies panel hosted a workshop on multifidelity methods for military vehicle design in Varna, Bulgaria. The workshop featured papers and presentations on air, space, sea and other applications by academia, industry and government laboratories. The Research Task Group also published MDO benchmark problems.    

Contributors: James T. Allison, Dean E. Bryson, Justin Gray, Andy Keane, Hyunsun Alicia Kim, Andrew Lampkin, Laura Mainini, Martin Muir, Felipe Viana, Karen Willcox and Anil Yildirim

Researchers extend the boundaries for integration and application of multidisciplinary design optimization