The MOTOR project aims at developing a unified ICT-enabled design workflow for the simulation-driven multi-objective design optimization of fluid energy machines in real industrial manufacturing environments.
Fluid energy machines can be found in all areas of everyday life in the form of ship and aircraft propellers, gas turbines and aircraft engines, water and wind turbines, pumps and compressors as well as torque converters in cars or locomotives. Their common working principle is to transfer mechanical energy to the surrounding fluid and vice versa. The MOTOR project considers four different types of fluid energy machines from the different fields of application:
Despite the large difference in application and operating conditions, in all four industrial use-cases the functionality of the machine essentially depends on the shape of the main geometry (propellers, rotors, fans) and, possibly, also on the housing design. These geometries are described by functional free-form surfaces, which are generated automatically from a set of application-specific design parameters such as thickness distributions and blade angles. The fact that already a slight variation of design parameters and, in turn, the shape of the geometry can lead to a significant change in the overall performance of the machine is the grand challenge for all computational tools in the simulation and optimization process chain.
Current design workflows for fluid energy machines couple the Computer-aided Design (CAD) platform with several Computer-aided Engineering (CAE) tools for the numerical simulation of fluids, solids, heat transfer etcetera, and the optimization of the shape. However, the independent development of CAD and CAE technologies has led to incompatible mathematical representations. The consequence of this is that multiple approximate conversion steps are required to pass geometries, computational meshes and numerical solutions between the various simulation and optimization phases, introducing additional errors in each step and making the outer design optimization loop less effective. This fragmentation of computational tools and the amount of approximative conversion steps must be reduced to increase the accuracy and reliability of simulations and make the overall design process more competitive.
The vision of MOTOR is to link all computational components of the design workflow to the same accurate representation of the master geometry to enable geometry-aware simulation and optimization methods. The accurate capturing of the interface between the solid and the surrounding fluids will enable the computation of highly accurate solutions to the overall multi-physics problem, which, in turn, will help the optimizer in producing optimal shapes not polluted by accumulated approximation and conversion errors. Furthermore, shape optimizers are most effective if they have direct access to the accurate representation of the master geometry and, at best, to the set of its generating design parameters instead of just a discrete and non-unique surface approximation.