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3D Model of Fuel Tank for System Simulation: A methodology for combining CAD models with simulation tools (Mechanical Project)

Engineering aircraft systems is a complex task. Therefore models and computer simulations are needed to test functions and behaviors of non existing systems, reduce testing time and cost, reduce the risk involved and to detect problems early which reduce the amount of implementation errors.

At the section Vehicle Simulation and Thermal Analysis at Saab Aeronautics in Linköping every basic aircraft system is designed and simulated, for example the fuel system. Currently 2-dimensional rectangular blocks are used in the simulation model to represent the fuel tanks. However, this is too simplistic to allow a more detailed analysis. The model needs to be extended with a more complex description of the tank geometry in order to get a more accurate model.

This report explains the different steps in the developed methodology for combining 3-dimensional geometry models of any fuel tank created in CATIA with dynamic simulation of the fuel system in Dymola. The new 3-dimensional representation of the tank in Dymola should be able to calculate fuel surface location during simulation of a maneuvering aircraft.

The first step of the methodology is to create a solid model of the fuel contents in the tank. Then the area of validity for the model has to be specified, in this step all possible orientations of the fuel acceleration vector within the area of validity is generated. All these orientations are used in the automated volume analysis in CATIA. For each orientation CATIA splits the fuel body in a specified number of volumes and records the volume, the location of the fuel surface and the location of the center of gravity. This recorded data is then approximated with the use of radial basis functions implemented in MATLAB. In MATLAB a surrogate model is created which are then implemented in Dymola. In this way any fuel surface location and center of gravity can be calculated in an efficient way based on the orientation of the fuel acceleration vector and the amount of fuel.

The new 3-dimensional tank model is simulated in Dymola and the results are compared with measures from the model in CATIA and with the results from the simulation of the old 2-dimensional tank model. The results shows that the 3-dimensional tank gives a better approximation of reality and that there is a big improvement compared with the 2-dimensional tank model. The downside is that it takes approximately 24 hours to develop this model.
Source: Linköping University
Author: Wikström, Jonas

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