Aerospace engineering

Fidelity And Credibility of Tests & Simulations

When designing the structure of nearly anything, whether a mobile phone, nuclear power plant or an aircraft, computational models and test simulations are the engineers trusted tools for optimising the design and evaluating its structural integrity. Computational models can increase safety and reliability whilst minimizing the cost to market. The engineers at the University of Liverpool are increasing the safety and reliability of engineering simulations tools.

The challenge

Safety and integrity of the structure are not the only features that manufacturers are after - high-performance, low-costs and sustainability are essential, but somewhat conflicting demands. How to find the balance and be sure the models generate a reliable representation of the real world?

The challenge is to establish confidence in computational models using the minimum number of physical tests precisely targeted to yield accurate, comprehensive and relevant data at minimum cost. Model validation using data from real-world tests is crucial step in establishing the confidence in the models.

The research led by Professor Patterson at the University of Liverpool is at the cutting edge of research contributing to internationally-acceptable model validation methodologies.

The Research Approach

The researchers at Liverpool are contributing to high-quality industrially applicable digital models to meet the design demands and safety of product development. The developed model validation and calibration techniques benefit a range of industries including aerospace, automotive and energy.

The work aims to quantify and reduce the uncertainty of the strain measurement systems which are used to test for example load-bearing structures of aircraft or components for fission reactors.

The group has developed efficient methods for quantitatively comparing the computationally predicted strain fields in engineered components with those measured in physical tests. This was achieved by innovatively repurposing image decomposition techniques, originating from fingerprint and iris recognition.

Working in partnership

The team in Liverpool has worked with national labs, including EMPA in Switzerland, and partners from the aerospace, automotive and energy industries through a series of EU-funded projects led by Professor E. Patterson: ADVISE (2008-2011), VANESSA (2012-2014)  MOTIVATE (2017-2020) and DIMES (2018-2021).

The efficient approach to compare information-rich data fields, derived from physical and computational tests, has spun-out new research directions. Collaboration with Airbus and the United States Air Force (USAF) is applying the research in quality assurance and in-service inspection for safety-critical components.

Outputs and outcomes

The new techniques developed by the Liverpool team have been incorporated to a pre-standard, "Validation of computational solid mechanics models" by the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN). The CEN recommendations are being embedded into the internal procedures for validation of computational mechanics models by the collaborators across industry including aerospace, automotive and nuclear.

The research has contributed internationally to digital twin technology leading to

  • shortened development times
  • increased operability reliability
  • safety by reducing the risk of, unexpected failure
  • reduced costs by minimising the energy embedded in the manufactured design

Furthermore the research is influencing the strategies underpinning the integrated use of tests and simulations in fields as diverse as predictive toxicology that can be an alternative to animal testing and fusion energy.  


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