Fellowship - Materials by Design for Impact in Aerospace Engineering

  • Kim, Alicia (PI)

Project: Research council

Project Details


Policy makers and regulatory bodies are demanding the aerospace industry reduces CO2 emission by 50% and NOx emission by 80% by 2020. In order to meet these drastic demands and ensure affordable air travel in the future, it is essential to make lighter aircraft which will use minimum fuel. The aerospace research community recognises the need to make a dramatic performance improvement and is considering several new aircraft concepts that move away from the conventional two-wing-one-fuselage configuration. This brings new challenges to aircraft design. A wing is a highly complex structure to design as it needs to consider the complex interaction between aerodynamics and structural behaviour. The current design practice is therefore very much based on using the previous successful design data. The challenge of departing from the conventional aircraft is that there are limited successful historical design data that is applicable to new concept aircraft. Once we have a wing design, however, there are sophisticated computational methods that analyse how the wing behaves under external flight conditions. In fact, there has been a significant level of development in computational analysis methods taking advantage of growing computational power. A prime example of this is the recent development in the computational modelling of materials. Using this technology, new advanced materials can be created in half the time that traditional material development takes and the return on investment in computational materials research has been estimated at between 300 - 900%. This fellowship is at the heart of developing sophisticated computational methods to design aircraft configurations that have not been considered before. The majority of the current methods analyse how a given material or structure responds to the external environment such as in flight at speed Mach 0.8, 38000 ft. What is different about the methods in this research is that they are inverse of the analysis methods: They will determine the best combination of advanced material and structural configuration based on the external environment and hence design the optimum wing for the given flight conditions. My research approach is to represent the design problem as a set of mathematical functions and develop computational methods to find the optimum solution. The methods will therefore, find the optimum design for both materials and structural configuration at the same time. The outcome of this fellowship will provide engineers with a sophisticated tool to design complex aircraft structures. The tools will be developed and disseminated in a way that they can be used on a range of other complex engineering problems. The UK has 17% of the global aerospace market share with revenue of £24 billion and is responsible for 3.6% national employment. With the international civil aerospace market forecast to grow to $4 trillion by 2030, the UK market has the opportunity to grow to $352 billion by 2030. It is critical that the UK develops this unique capability to ensure we maintain the market share of these high value products and processes and its economy has the opportunity for growth. Furthermore, the weight savings which will be made from optimum use of materials lead to meeting the emission targets, thus ensuring sustainable environment for the future generations.
Effective start/end date19/06/1430/09/15


  • Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council


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