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Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Tech Transfer

Physics-Based Wing Structure Design, Analysis and Weight Estimation Conceptual Design Tool for Hybrid Electric Distributed Propulsion, Phase I

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

As HEDP systems have proven worthy of further consideration by approaching NASA's goals for N+2 and N+3 energy consumption, noise, emission and field length, conceptual design tools to expedite the design cycle are desired. During this Phase I effort ESAero will progress the development of the hybrid-electric distributed propulsion (HEDP) TOGW tool developed in the previous Phase I SBIR (NNX13CC24P) by producing a physics-based wing structure analysis and weight estimation module. The layout of the structural members will be estimated using heuristic trends and top-level design assumptions, and the members will be sized according to classical beam theory. The interaction between HEDP configuration and aircraft weight is important to understand, as one primary advantage of the configuration is the ability to place smaller propulsors at virtually any location on the aircraft, leveraging pre-existing airframe supports. By delving into the structural analysis of HEDP designs, progress can be made toward determining how sensitive aircraft structural weight is to propulsion configuration. This new module will replace the modified, empirically based equations used in the current TOGW framework. By incorporating this capability, the novel architectures and configurations of HEDP systems, as well as other advanced aircraft concepts, could be analyzed and sized with greater fidelity. Furthermore, this effort may start to unravel concerns over other structural members paving the way for further investigation in a Phase II. Other potential Phase II tasks may include integrating this structural analysis and weight estimation into other conceptual design tools, such as OpenVSP. More »

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