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Boundary-Layer Ingestion Benefit for the STARC-ABL Concept

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Boundary-layer ingestion (BLI) offers the potential for significant fuel burn reduction by exploiting tightly coupled aeropropulsive effects. NASA’s Single-aisle Turboelectric Aircraft with Aft Boundary-Layer propulsion (STARC-ABL) concept employs BLI on an electrically powered tail cone thruster to take advantage of the technology on what is otherwise a conventional airframe. Despite the traditional airframe of this concept, aeropropulsive integration is critical to the BLI propulsor’s performance. Therefore, it is vital to employ tightly coupled aeropropulsive models to design BLI systems. In this work, 3-D RANS simulations are used to model the aerodynamics, and 1-D thermodynamic cycle analyses are used to model the propulsion system. The two models are tightly coupled using NASA’s OpenMDAO framework, enabling efficient design optimization through gradient-based optimization with analytic derivatives. Using this coupled aeropropulsive framework, 18 computational fluid dynamics (CFD)-based aeropropulsive design optimizations are performed to study the power requirements of the BLI configuration and a reference podded configuration where the electric fan ingests freestream air. This study provides the first set of CFD-based performance data for the STARC-ABL concept across the design space of BLI fan size and pressure ratio. The results quantify the power savings through BLI compared to a traditional propulsion system.