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Robust design in aeronautics: Steps towards more time- and cost-efficient product development

EU-funded researchers examine methods for handling operational and geometry uncertainties towards introducing a paradigm shift in virtual prototyping

Aerospace manufactures continuously seek to reduce the time to market, while together introducing less costly designs, capable of leading to optimized products with high levels of performance and reliability. To this end, virtual prototyping is a key step in the process of product development. At the same time however, the analytical tools and methods upon which virtual prototyping needs to rely, introduce a level of uncertainty in the design process. For example, we can consider the uncertainties involved in the definition of conditions representing the operational environment when performing a 3-D viscous flow analysis of engine components. Another example includes disparities between the CAD geometry and the real geometry, which often appear during assembly process and due to manufacturing tolerances. Geometry deformations occurring during engine operating conditions are also difficult to handle. Scientists behind UMRIDA, an EU-funded project which was launched in October 2014, firmly believe that future simulation tools should incorporate non-deterministic components as a way to produce results that would be closer to the experimental reality and to the real operation environment of the aeronautical and industrial components. UMRIDA scientists aim to introduce uncertainty quantification (UQ) techniques into the optimization process towards developing robust design methods (RDM), which incorporate the major uncertainties. In doing so, predicted quantities (e.g. loads, lift, drag, efficiency, emissions, noise, etc.), are no longer represented by single numbers, but rather through a probability density function providing a domain of confidence, associated to the related uncertainties, introducing hereby a fundamental shift in paradigm in the virtual prototyping methodology. UMRIDA is supported by a large participation from the European industry, which justifies that the impact of this research is recognized as being of crucial importance for the European competitiveness. This goes far beyond the aeronautical industry, with the potential to benefit any organization that makes predictions of quantities, where such predictions are used to sustain a critical decision. Being at the forefront of current research in this field, where no accepted standard models yet exist, UMRIDA examines different modelling approaches and assesses their potential with respect to industrial applications. The latest project activities are focused on the construction of an innovative database for UQ and RDM, formed by a series of industrial challenges and upstream basic test cases with prescribed uncertainties. Furthermore, different simulation approaches for uncertainty quantification of complex industrial multi-physics applications are developed and integrated into industry-ready tools. For example, a tool for combined operational and geometrical uncertainties for turbo-machinery cases has been successfully applied to a transonic rotor. Fully automatic geometry modification, automated meshing and computation set-up are achieved. Finally, drastic reduction in computation time is reached by the introduction of a sparse grid approach. Ongoing results and activities focusing on Uncertainty Quantification will be presented and analyzed in the 1st UMRIDA Open Workshop, which will take place in TU Delft in April 15th-16th, 2015. A second workshop on Robust Design will be organized at the end of the project, when Best Practice Guidelines for end-users will be also delivered. For further information please visit:


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