An Architecting Methodology for Thermal Management Systems of Commercial Aircraft at the Conceptual Design Phase

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Shi, Mingxuan
Mavris, Dimitri N.
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An aircraft thermal management system (TMS) is a subsystem to handle the cooling and heating requirements of the whole aircraft. Traditionally, the TMS is architected based on experience. Its impacts on aircraft conceptual design are estimated using empirical data. However, the heating problem becomes much more serious because of more applications of the electrical systems and the increasing use of composite material. Moreover, novel aircraft concepts that generate much larger amount of heat are emerging. Therefore, there is a lack of historical data for such applications, which makes the conventional TMS architecting approaches inapplicable. To tackle such thermal management challenges, this research proposed the overarching research objective: to develop a TMS architecting methodology suitable for conceptual design phase of commercial aircraft, which is capable of handling increasing cooling loads and emerging aircraft concepts with limited historical data and only information available during early design stage. The existing TMS architecting methods that generate architecture candidates highly rely on the intuition and experience of the researchers, potentially ignoring other innovative and non-intuitive architectures. Besides, to overcome the lack of data, physics-based modeling and simulation are heavily used for evaluation of TMS designs. However, if the number of candidates is too large, it is impractical to perform physics-based sizing, optimization, and analysis. Thus, an approach to narrow down the architecture space is required. Moreover, the exiting research focus on the evaluation of TMS designs based on fixed aircraft design. The interactions between designs of TMS and aircraft are not studied yet. To fill these gaps, a backtracking architecting methodology that is guided by behaviors of fundamental physics is implemented to populate the TMS architecture space. To further narrow down the design space and perform optimal down-selection, a filtering process based on feasibility and clustering of key performance indicators. The interactions between designs of TMS and aircraft are studied by the integration of the TMS architecting process into the aircraft design loop. The primary contributions of this dissertation are: 1. developed an architecting methodology that can systematically populate both intuitive and non-intuitive TMS architectures; 2. developed a filtering method based on feasibility and clustering of clustering of key performance indicators, which enables rapid narrowing down of the architecture candidate space; 3. developed an integrated design framework of the aircraft to incorporate TMS designs.
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