CFD-based optimization of hovering rotors using radial basis functions for shape parameterization and mesh deformation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

66 Citations (Scopus)


Aerodynamic shape optimization of a helicopter rotor in hover is presented, using compressible CFD as the aerodynamic model. An efficient domain element shape parameterization method is used as the surface control and deformation method, and is linked to a radial basis function global interpolation, to provide direct transfer of domain element movements into deformations of the design surface and the CFD volume mesh, and so both the geometry control and volume mesh deformation problems are solved simultaneously. This method is independent of mesh type (structured or unstructured) or size, and optimization independence from the flow solver is achieved by obtaining sensitivity information for an advanced parallel gradient-based algorithm by finite-difference, resulting in a flexible method of 'wrap-around' optimization. This paper presents results of the method applied to hovering rotors using local and global design parameters, allowing a large geometric design space. Results are presented for two transonic tip Mach numbers, with minimum torque as the objective, and strict constraints applied on thrust, internal volume and root moments. This is believed to be the first free form design optimization of a rotor blade using compressible CFD as the aerodynamic model, and large geometric deformations are demonstrated, resulting in significant torque reductions, with off-design performance also improved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-118
Number of pages22
JournalOptimization and Engineering
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013


  • Multivariate function approximation
  • Radial basis functions
  • Numerical simulation
  • Numerical optimization
  • Volume mesh deformation
  • Shape parameterization
  • Aerodynamics
  • Rotors
  • CFD


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