Pipistrel, an aviation and aerospace company based in Slovenia, chose ESTECO technologies to design the propeller for a highly efficient, hybrid-electric aircraft.
The work was part of the EU-funded project MAHEPA (Modular Approach to Hybrid Electric Propulsion Architecture), which aimed to advance two variants of a low-emission, serial, hybridelectric propulsion architecture to Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 6. modeFRONTIER process automation and optimization software enabled the simulation process to be automated so that innovative and optimized designs could be identified in a limited amount of time.
Pipistrel’s engineers faced the challenge of designing a propeller
driven by a hybrid-electric propulsion system while taking into
account the different conditions an aircraft encounters during
the four phases of flight: takeoff, climb, cruise, and descent.
Considering that the requirements for speed, power, and thrust change during flight, the objective was to maximize takeoff thrust and power recovery during descent and minimize power use during the climb and cruise phases. The optimization involved three stages: the preliminary optimization of the propeller, optimization of the airfoil, and the final optimization of the propeller.
For this multi-phase optimization project, Rok Lapuh and David
Eržen, aerodynamics engineers at Pipistrel, used modeFRONTIER
coupled with CHARM (Comprehensive Hierarchical
Aeromechanics Rotorcraft Model) and XFOIL, an interactive
program for designing and analyzing subsonic isolated airfoils.
By taking advantage of ESTECO’s process automation technology,
Pipistrel could automate the simulation workflows, evaluate
thousands of designs simultaneously and identify innovative
optimized results. This process was conducted completely
autonomously leaving Pipistrel’s engineers only with the task of
selecting the most appropriate design.
In the first propeller optimization, Pipistrel optimized the chord and torque distribution to achieve maximum thrust and minimum power for a given set of airfoils. These results were then used as the requirements for the airfoil optimization. The design team used modeFRONTIER to design the airfoil based on specific geometric constraints (thickness, curvature, or leading-edge radius), while increasing lift and reducing drag. They initiated a Design-of- Experiments phase and then used the HYBRID genetic algorithm to successfully perform the airfoil optimization and obtain the Pareto front with the optimal designs. Lastly, they used the optimal airfoil for the final propeller optimization. With the ESTECO optimization algorithms, Pipistrel’s engineers were able to evaluate nearly five thousand designs in a limited time and increase thrust by 30% during takeoff.
Before using modeFRONTIER, Pipistrel used a manual process to simulate multiple designs and choose the preferred one. After introducing the ESTECO technology, Pipistrel’s engineers were not only able to automate this process but could also evaluate options that would otherwise not have been considered. "modeFRONTIER optimization technology gave me the opportunity to think outside the box," said Rok Lapuh, Aerodynamics Engineer at Pipistrel, “We could find a design that is completely different to what we are used to, but that may work even better.” The company has also dramatically reduced its time to market as it has moved from the simulation directly to production. “We trust the results we get with modeFRONTIER so much that we do not expect to require a prototype,” stated David Eržen, Aerodynamics Engineer at Pipistrel, "We will go straight into production."
ESTECO is an independent software company, highly specialized
in numerical optimization and simulation process and data
management. With a 20-year experience, ESTECO supports
over 300 international organizations in excelling in their digital
engineering experience, accelerating the decision making process
and reducing development time. Ford Motor Company, Honda,
Lockheed Martin, Toyota and Whirlpool are just a few of the major
companies relying on ESTECO technology. ESTECO is the owner of
VOLTA, the collaborative web platform for Simulation Process and
Data Management and design optimization, and modeFRONTIER,
the comprehensive solution for process automation and optimization
in the engineering design process.
Pipistrel is an aviation and aerospace company based in Slovenia. It has more than 30 years of experience in the ultralight and general aviation industry. Starting as a small business it has become a leading producer of efficient aircraft with electric and hybrid propulsion systems.
modeFRONTIER provides a seamless coupling with third party engineering tools, enables the automation of the design simulation process, and facilitates analytic decision making.
The ultimate goal of the study was to optimize the Drift Chamber’s performance in terms of stiffness, strength and weight o be mounted on the Mu2e particle detector at FermiLAB in Chicago
construction modefrontier ansys optimization energy