Professor Vassili Toropov - Lose weight and go electric: planes, trains and automobiles

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22 March 2018

Time: 6:30 - 7:30pm
Venue: Skeel Lecture Theatre, People's Palace. Queen Mary Mile End Campus, E1 4NS

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The Inaugural Lecture of Vassili Toropov

Structural design of a land or air vehicle is focused on providing sufficient strength at the minimum weight. An overweight aircraft needs more lift, resulting in larger wings, more thrust from the engines, more fuel, heavier landing gear, etc. that further increases structural weight - a trend known as a vicious circle. The opposite, weight reduction, results in a virtuous circleof economic benefits.

Structural optimisation, a scientific way of reducing structural weight, involves topology optimisation to find an ideal layout of a structure, shape optimisation to refine structural shapes, and structural sizing, e.g. skin thickness selection. New materials provide an additional opportunity for improving structural performance by finding the material’s optimal internal structure, e.g. fibre orientations in the stack of composite plies in a wing panel.

Electric propulsion is a commonplace in some of the land vehicles (trains), new and expanding in automobiles, and a pioneering development in aircraft. It has a potential for making aircraft cleaner, quieter and reducing dependence on the fossil fuels but, at the current level of electric energy storage development, results in heavy batteries that have to be located close to the electric motors. Also, as a battery does not change weight through the flight, an electric aircraft lands heavy. This makes the structural weight reduction even more important, and further increases interaction of disciplines in the vehicle design.

The lecture will summarise developments in structural and multidisciplinary optimisation, handling the problem’s uncertainties, and applications to land and air vehicles, also touching upon space exploration.



Vassili Toropov is Professor of Aerospace Engineering and Chair of the Division of Aerospace Engineering and Fluid Mechanics in the School of Engineering and Materials Science. He is a Chartered Aerospace Engineer and Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS). In the recent past he was Professor at Leeds University and, as Principal Specialist, spent several years at Altair Engineering developing design optimisation techniques and applying them to various industrial problems.

Vassili published over 300 research papers on multidisciplinary optimisation, stochastic problems, composite optimisation, evolutionary optimisation, with applications to various industrial problems. His research has been funded by industry including Rolls-Royce, Airbus, Jaguar Land Rover, as well as Innovate UK, EPSRC and European Commission. The topics have ranged from optimisation of aerospace structures to optimum flow and thermal management.

Vassili is current Chair of the Association for Structural and Multidisciplinary Optimisation in the UK (ASMO–UK), served as Chair of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Multidisciplinary Optimization Technical Committee, is a member of AIAA Non-Deterministic Approaches Technical Committee, RAeS Structures and Materials specialist group, NAFEMS Optimization Working Group. He served as Treasurer, Vice President and Secretary General of the International Society for Structural and Multidisciplinary Optimization (ISSMO) and is a co-editor of Springer’s Structural and Multidisciplinary Optimization journal.