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Thursday, October 3 • 8:30am - 9:00am
Honeywell Aerospace

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Evolving Trends in the Structural Optimization of Gas Turbine Engines

The history of aircraft gas turbine engine design generally has not included significant optimization of the structural layout of engines. “Structure” in this context is defined as all non-rotating components, and the structural system they comprise. This optimization gap has been driven by the pace of engine layout during the concept development phase and by the extreme complexity of the problem. Absent have been sufficiently capable tools and processes to rapidly perform this task well, with this sad state being allowed to persist given that multiple “functionally adequate” solutions tend to exist in spite of the complex and challenging array of structural requirements. Therefore the initial selection of the structural system concept has tended to be anchored in experience and in simple parametric trade studies seeking to provide a sound configuration from the perspectives of strength, weight, cost, and modularity. More refined structural optimization efforts tend to be in the late stage detail optimization of engine components, with those components existing within a sub-optimal structural system.

In contrast to structural optimization, the evolution of tools and processes for engine operational performance related design features have evolved to a high degree. These include optimization of the thermodynamic cycle, the number and configuration of rotating components, and the general placement of shaft support bearings. While complex, the optimization of these aspects of engine layout have advanced to a high degree given the axisymetric nature of the hardware, the manageable number of parameters, the constrained range of acceptable designs, and the critical need to “get it right” in the concept phase. The un-stated philosophy has been that the structure will evolve to an acceptable configuration later.

The explosion of computer power and a rush to create tools leveraging this power to tackle the structural optimization problem appears to position the turbine engine industry for a pending step change improvement in structural optimization.  Given that a large fraction of engine weight and cost is dedicated to structure, it is anticipated that significant advancement in engine power density and cost reduction are on the horizon.

This presentation discusses some of the historic difficulties, and some of the trends now evident or anticipated in resolving this significant problem.

avatar for Brian Cottrell

Brian Cottrell

Chief of Structures, Honeywell Aerospace
Brian Cottrell is the Chief of Structures for Honeywell Aerospace, a $12B division of Honeywell International. In this capacity Mr. Cottrell guides many key technical decisions related to mechanical product structural design, design processes, and in-service problem solutions, for... Read More →

Thursday October 3, 2013 8:30am - 9:00am
Grand Ballroom

Attendees (1)