Journal Article

Adjoint-Based Aerodynamic Shape Optimization Including Transition to Turbulence Effects


G. L. O. Halila, J. R. R. A. Martins, and K. J. Fidkowski


Aerospace Science and Technology, (107):1–15, 2020



The inclusion of transition to turbulence effects in aerodynamic shape optimization makes it possible to use it as a tool for the design of airframes with laminar flow. Modified Reynolds-Averaged Navier–Stokes (RANS) models that consider transition to turbulence have gained traction in the computational fluid dynamics (CFD) community. These models enable the computation of transitional flows without the need for external modules. In this work, we use a smooth version of the amplification factor transport (AFT) model, called AFT-S, to perform gradient-based aerodynamic shape optimization (ASO) of airfoils in subsonic and transonic flow conditions. We investigate the benefits of including transition effects into the optimization process and assess the impact of losing laminar flow when early transition to turbulence occurs due to surface contamination. Our results indicate that our design optimization approach yields lower drag airfoils when transition effects are considered. For the transonic case, the optimizer trades between shock wave strength and laminar flow extension to minimize drag.