A Cross-Sectional Aeroelastic Analysis and Structural Optimization Tool for Slender Composite Structures

Roland Feil, Tobias Pflumm, Pietro Bortolotti, Marco Morandini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus Citations


A fully open-source available framework for the parametric cross-sectional analysis and design optimization of slender composite structures, such as helicopter or wind turbine blades, is presented. The framework—Structural Optimization and Aeroelastic Analysis (SONATA)—incorporates two structural solvers, the commercial tool VABS, and the novel open-source code ANBA4. SONATA also parameterizes the design inputs, postprocesses and visualizes the results, and generates the structural inputs to a variety of aeroelastic analysis tools. It is linked to the optimization library OpenMDAO. This work presents the methodology and explains the fundamental approaches of SONATA. Structural characteristics were successfully verified for both VABS and ANBA4 using box beam examples from literature, thereby verifying the parametric approach to generating the topology and mesh in a cross section as well as the solver integration. The framework was furthermore exercised by analyzing and evaluating a fully resolved highly flexible wind turbine blade. Computed structural characteristics correlated between VABS and ANBA4, including off-diagonal terms. Stresses, strains, and deformations were recovered from loads derived through coupling with aeroelastic analysis. The framework, therefore, proves effective in accurately analyzing and optimizing slender composite structures on a high-fidelity level that is close to a three-dimensional finite element model.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number112755
Number of pages11
JournalComposite Structures
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5000-76877


  • ANBA4
  • Composite structures
  • Parametric design framework
  • VABS


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