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Optimisation of Multiscale Structures with Applications to Morphing Aircraft (OMSAMA)
Start date: May 1, 2010, End date: Apr 30, 2015 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The performance of engineering structures is continuously increasing, enabled by the accurate simulation and subsequent optimization of these systems. The ACARE Vision 2020 document set the ambitious goal of a 50% reduction in aircraft emissions that can only be achieved through a step change in aircraft technology. Adaptive structures and morphing aircraft are novel technologies that can provide this step change, and this proposal provides an efficient method to model, optimize and realize these structures. Morphing aircraft have the ability to alter the shape of their wings to improve fuel efficiency or to increase control effectiveness. The Wright brothers employed wing warping for roll control, but as aircraft speeds increased compliant structures were replaced with small, rigid control surfaces. Bird flight motivates the search for more efficient solutions, where a compliant structure is continuously optimized in flight using distributed sensors and actuators. From the structural perspective the objective is to produce fully integrated, hierarchical structures with compliance control. However the requirements are conflicting: the structure must be stiff to withstand the external loads, but must be flexible to enable shape changes. The solution to this conflict is to design the structure to decouple the two actions, through components with significant anisotropy and integrated actuation. The components may be modelled at the micro scale, but these models are too large for system optimization studies. This proposal provides a step change to existing methods by developing a framework where multi-scale and multi-physics modelling may be achieved efficiently, though significant improvements in the way in which the different models of varying fidelity communicate.

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