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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/X041719/1
Title: Dealing with Evolving Constraints In Design Systems for Net Zero (DECIDE for Net Zero)
Principal Investigator: Price, Professor M
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
National Composites Centre Queen's University of Belfast Rolls-Royce Plc (UK)
Spirit Aerosystems (UK)
Department: Sch Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Organisation: Queen's University of Belfast
Scheme: EPSRC Fellowship
Starts: 01 August 2024 Ends: 31 July 2029 Value (£): 1,965,519
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Design Engineering Manufacturing Machine & Plant
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
12 Jul 2023 Engineering Prioritisation Panel Meeting 12 and 13 July 2023 Announced
20 Feb 2024 EPSRC Fellowship Interview Panel 20 21 and 22 February 2024 (Open and Open Plus) Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The UK Net Zero Strategy published in October 2021 reflects the urgency of action needed to avoid climate catastrophe. The net zero journey outlined therein addresses economy and emissions reduction in all sectors, with the specific challenge in aviation a notable element. Global aviation is currently responsible for 2% of emissions with 90% currently from aircraft operations, and this will grow progressively as air transportation grows. In response to this technology and policy are changing rapidly offering both opportunity and challenge, but the standard design systems and processes in practice today are insufficiently agile to support the current need for novel designs that can adapt to these rapidly changing future needs. With current approaches solutions get locked in early based on the available technology level, and optimised around that technology, and consequently have limited opportunity for upgrade and enhancement through operational life, which in the case of aerospace is decades. But delivery of net zero demands radical change quickly. Agile and adaptable design systems are needed to help develop solutions that can be easily upgraded to use advanced technology as it emerges.

The key here is that constraints are needed to to allow a baseline solution to be found, but in then optimising around this baseline the constraints become a barrier to future enhancements. To allow future variation without redesign needs new capability. In particular capability to map and measure a design space and to subsequently be able to dynamically change the constraints was found to be a core need for progress in this area. The mapping and measurement capability is needed to understand how constraints are influencing the design at this point in time, and the capability to deal with changing constraints to allow understanding of how the design could change with new technology advance or policy changes.

The four research questions emerging from this are therefore:

1. Navigation of Dynamic Design Spaces: How can constraints be represented in a design model such that a changing design space can be navigated and the constraints driving or limiting the design can be identified, and their influence on the design quantified?

2. Evolving Constraints over time: How can constraints be allowed to evolve over time and their influence on the design solutions over time captured, including ability to prioritise requirements/constraints?

3. Measurement and Evaluation of Solution Paths: What metrics are appropriate for maintaining a set of time-history linked solutions open to further development?

4. Keeping Design Options Open: How can design options be kept open, and how can

technology changes/policy changes or removal over a long time period be studied?

In DECIDE for Net Zero constraints will be permitted to evolve just as every part of the design can. In doing this the design context itself will evolve, creating new fitness landscapes for product evolution. Contrary to standard practice today which is to optimise as far as possible, the aim here is to generate a diverse population of solutions that will have many individuals that survive major disruptions even if some may fail. This is moving significantly beyond current concepts of robust design. This variation of constraints requires a completely novel design system architecture using time history dependent genetics. Geometric analogies for design spaces will allow innovative design tools to support exploration of design spaces in a more meaningful way and the latest bio-inspired methodologies will allow exploration of how products evolve in the context of ever-changing constraints. With this capability robust baseline designs can be developed that will enable the fastest transition to net zero, for example a more modular airframe that can accept plug and play solutions for hydrogen or electric propulsion systems and energy supply which are easy to cost effective to maintain.

Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.qub.ac.uk