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07-02-2018 | EDUCATIONAL ARTICLE | Issue 4/2018

Structural and Multidisciplinary Optimization 4/2018

Open-source coupled aerostructural optimization using Python

Journal:
Structural and Multidisciplinary Optimization > Issue 4/2018
Authors:
John P. Jasa, John T. Hwang, Joaquim R. R. A. Martins

Abstract

To teach multidisciplinary design optimization (MDO) to students effectively, it is useful to have accessible software that runs quickly, allowing hands-on exploration of coupled systems and optimization methods. Open-source software exists for low-fidelity aerodynamic or structural analysis, but there is no existing software for fast tightly coupled aerostructural analysis and design optimization. To address this need, we present OpenAeroStruct, an open-source low-fidelity aerostructural analysis and optimization tool developed in NASA’s OpenMDAO framework. It uses the coupled adjoint method to compute the derivatives required for efficient gradient-based optimization. OpenAeroStruct combines a vortex lattice method and 1-D finite-element analysis to model lifting surfaces, such as aircraft wings and tails, and uses the coupled-adjoint method to compute the aerostructural derivatives. We use the Breguet range equation to compute the fuel burn as a function of structural weight and aerodynamic performance. OpenAeroStruct has proved effective both as an educational tool and as a benchmark for researching new MDO methods. There is much more potential to be exploited as the research community continues to develop and use this tool.

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