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CFD Aids Thrust Reverser Design
Posted Wed October 16, 2002 @01:21PM
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Application It is by now standard practice at Boeing to design basic aerodynamic surfaces, such as the wings, engine nacelles, and fuselage, using computational fluid dynamics.

It is less common and often more difficult to use CFD to analyze more complex parts of the airplane, such as high lift systems, engine compartments, auxiliary power units, or the behavior of the efflux from engine thrust reversers.

When dealing with thrust reversers, designers must know exactly where the exhaust plumes go, and they must know it early in the design cycle, because it affects such basic decisions as the placement of the engine on the wing. The enabling technology and research group at Boeing's commercial aircraft unit has developed a computer simulation that provides an early look at thrust reverser exhaust plumes.


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Not only is the thrust reverser geometrically complex, but the design objective is a general look at where the plumes go, and the analysis will not be run a great many times. Those conditions permit the use of an unstructured mesh, which subdivides space in a more general way and can significantly reduce the time required to set up a problem, sometimes from weeks to days. It requires a compatible CFD program. For this analysis, we chose the Fluent package from Fluent Inc. of Lebanon, N.H.

The entire CFD analysis, from geometry definition to solution, can be completed in about three days. Tests that involve geometry changes, such as the repositioning of the cascades or the nacelle relative to the wing, or variation of the cascade angles, can be accomplished with minimal remeshing and analysis.

Wind tunnel testing and expense are reduced, but the key benefits are time and risk mitigation. Our process increases early confidence in the design and enables us to shorten the development cycle and deliver a quality product on schedule.

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