On the effect of fluid-structure interactions and choice of algorithm in multi-physics topology optimisation

26 Jun 2018

This article presents an optimisation framework for the compliance minimisation of structures subjected to design-dependent pressure loads. A finite element solver coupled to a Lattice Boltzmann method is employed, such that the effect of the fluid-structure interactions on the optimised design can be considered. It is noted that the main computational expense of the algorithm is the Lattice Boltzmann method. Therefore, to improve the computational efficiency and to assess the effect of the fluid-structure interactions on the fi nal optimised design, the degree of coupling is changed. Several successful topology optimisation algorithms exist with thousands of associated publications in the literature. However, only a small portion of these are applied to real-world problems, with even fewer offering a comparison of methodologies. This is especially important for problems involving fluid-structure interactions, where discrete and continuous methods can provide different advantages. The goal of this research is to couple two key disciplines, fluids and structures, into a topology optimisation framework, which shows fast convergence for multi-physics optimisation problems. This is achieved by offering a comparison of three popular, but competing, optimisation methodologies. The needs for the exploration of larger design spaces and to produce innovative designs make meta-heuristic algorithms less efficient for this task. A coupled analysis, where the fluid and structural mechanics are updated, provides superior results compared with an uncoupled analysis approach, however at some computational expense. The results in this article show that the method is sensitive to whether fluid-structure coupling is included, i.e. if the fluid mechanics are updated with design changes, but not to the degree of the coupling, i.e. how regularly the fluid mechanics are updated, up to a certain limit. Therefore, the computational efficiency of the algorithm can be considerably increased with small penalties in the quality of the objective by relaxing the coupling.