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CHAPTER 3: AIRCRAFT MODELING AND MESHING

3.1 Introduction

The aircraft CAD model was already available for meshing and subsequent
analysis. However, the geometry required some smoothing and cleaning up of unwanted
edges and faces. The geometry was imported in GAMBIT®. Gambit is a commercially
available mesh generation software. The software is well known for its friendly interface
and grid generation capability. Its allows geometry cleanup options, breaking up of
geometry in different parts, Boolean operations on geometry, meshing tools to compute
and generate mesh according to user requirements. The software has features of
applying boundary layer to the geometry which enhance the analysis by capturing
boundary layer and shear phenomena on wall and surfaces. Gambit has the capability to
import most of the CAD/CAM geometry files with minimal tolerance. Hence, CAD
geometry can easily be imported and meshing process can be started for further analysis.

3.2 Aircraft, Intake and Exhaust Geometries

The initial model of the aircraft is shown in figure 5. For current research, aircraft
with wing tip missile configuration was required, hence, geometry was made suitable for
research by deletion of unwanted external stores. The model was suitable for analysis,
however, it required cleaning up of some unwanted edges and faces for smooth meshing
operations. The exhaust nozzle geometry was modelled in CATIA® and was later
imported in GAMBIT software for meshing. The geometrical coordinates of exhaust were
noted manually and was later used in CATIA for accurate buildup of geometry. Aircraft,
intake and exhaust were taken as separate entities so that changes can be made in any
of the part without affecting other geometry. It is pertinent to highlight that an imaginary
exhaust plume was also modelled as a separate entity so that a fine mesh can be
generated in the plume area for better flow field analysis. The figure 6 shows the intake
and exhaust geometries along with aircraft.

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Figure 5: Aircraft Model

Figure 6: Aircraft with Exhaust Nozzle and Intake Duct

3.3 Cleaning of Geometry

Cleaning up of geometry requires thorough examination of geometry for smooth


meshing operations. De-shaped faces, overlapping assemblies or unwanted lines pose
severe problems during meshing operation of geometry. The problem increases manifold
during numerical simulation due to these unwanted subassemblies. Aircraft, intake and
exhaust nozzle CAD models after importing in GAMBIT were subjected to deletion of
extra surfaces, merging of overlapping faces, correction and smoothening of contours.
For said purpose, Boolean operations, split, merge, edge connection, and edge projection

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options of the software were used. Aircraft, intake and exhaust models after simplification
and cleanup are shown in figure 7.

Figure 7: Aircraft Model after Simplification

3.4 Mesh Generation

Computational grid size and type plays an important part in computational analysis.
The grid generation must be fine enough to resolve all flow gradients. However, this
aspects needs to be balanced with available computational power which puts limit on grid
size. This requires smart grid generation techniques to maintain balance between these
two aspects. Incorrect grid can result in long simulation time and inaccurate results.
Therefore, well developed grid plays an important role in CFD analysis. For complex
geometries, unstructured grids are suitable for analyzing flow field physics. Unstructured
grids provide better stability for turbulent flows and swirling. Due to the complex nature of
flow involved in current research, unstructured meshing scheme was applied.
One of the most important aspect of numerical analysis is the subdivision of
domain into small elements. The process of spatial subdivision of domain is called
meshing. Meshing is considered as the key step for CFD analysis. As the numerical
analysis depends upon each node within a cell, the accuracy of solution greatly depends
upon the number of nodes / cells in the domain. As a rule of thumb, dense mesh is
required at the point of large gradients or location of importance for study.

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The mesh technique adopted for this research was based on similar footsteps
defined above. Prime importance was given to mesh consistency with previous research
to validate and compare the results. Dense mesh was kept at important areas such as
aircraft wing trailing and leading edge, canopy, intake, exhaust etc. in addition, a dense
mesh was created in exhaust plume area to analyze the flow behavior downstream of
exhaust. A size function was used to gradually coarsen the mesh away from aircraft into
the domain.

3.4.1 Surface Mesh Generation

For surface mesh generation, edges of aircraft, intake and exhaust areas were
assigned mesh size separately. Although process is time consuming and cumbersome
but it results in highly controlled and fine mesh generation. Unstructured Tri Pave mesh
was mostly applied on surfaces with complex shapes. Aircraft intake and exhaust
geometries were also meshed with Tri Pave unstructured scheme. This scheme created
surface mesh consisting of triangular mesh elements. A suitable size function was also
applied to generate a reasonable mesh. The overall surface mesh of aircraft is shown in
figure below.

Figure 8: Unstructured Mesh on Aircraft and Symmetry Plane

3.4.2 Volume Mesh Generation

For volume mesh, tetrahedral meshing scheme was applied. It is a type of hybrid
mesh technique which is quite effective for complex geometries and sharp contours.

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Hybrid mesh maintains a good balance between accuracy of results and mesh efficiency.
The volume mesh consisted of tetrahedral, hexahedral and prismatic cells throughout the
domain. Intake and exhaust volumes were meshed separately using the same meshing
scheme. The domain was divided into two volumes; inner domain and outer domain. Inner
domain consisted of fine mesh, whereas a size function was used for outer domain to
gradual coarsen the mesh throughout the domain.

Figure 9: Exhaust Nozzle meshed using tetrahedral scheme

Figure 10: Complete Meshed Volume

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