Advanced methods for dynamic aeroelastic analysis of rotors
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Simulations play an integral role in the understanding and development of rotor- craft aeromechanics. Computational Fluid Dynamics coupled with Computational Structural Dynamics (CFD/CSD) offers an excellent approach to analyzing rotors. These methods have been traditionally “loosely-coupled” where data are exchanged periodically, motion is prescribed for CFD, and the updated loads have a static component for CSD. Loosely-coupled CFD/CSD assumes the solution to be periodic, which may not be true for some simulations. “Tightly-coupled” CFD/CSD, where loads and motion are exchanged at each time step, does not make this periodic assumption and opens up new avenues of simulation to research. A major drawback to tightly-coupled CFD/CSD is an increase in computational cost. Different approaches are explored to reduce this cost as well as examine numerical implications in solutions from tightly and loosely-coupled CFD/CSD. A trim methodology optimized for tightly-coupled simulations is developed and found to bring trim costs within parity of loosely-coupled CFD/CSD simulations. Aerodynamic loading is found to be nearly similar for fixed controls. However, the lead-lag blade motion is determined to contain a harmonic in the tightly-coupled analysis that is not an integer multiple of the rotor speed. A hybrid CFD/CSD methodology employing the use of a free-wake code to model the far-field effects of the rotor wake is developed to aid in computational cost reduction. Investigation of this approach reveals that computational costs may be reduced while preserving solution accuracy. This work’s contributions to the community include the development of a trim algorithm appropriate for use in tightly-coupled CFD/CSD simulations along with a detailed examination of the physics predicted by loose and tight coupling for quasi-steady level flight conditions. The influence of the wake in such cases is directly examined using a modular hybrid coupling to a free-wake code that is capable of reduced cost computations.