A 3D mesh deformation technique for irregular in-flight ice accretion

Andrew Pendenza, Wagdi G. Habashi, Marco Fossati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Aircraft holding around busy airports may be requested to sustain as much as 45 min of icing before landing or being diverted to another airport. In this paper, a three-dimensional mesh deformation scheme, based on a structural frame analogy, is proposed for the numerical simulation of ice accretion during extended exposure to adverse weather conditions. The goal is to provide an approach that is robust and efficient enough to delay or altogether avoid re-meshing while preserving (enforcing) nearly orthogonal elements at the highly distorted ice surface. Robustness is achieved by suitably modifying the axial and torsional stiffness components of the frame elements in order to handle large and irregular grid displacements typical of in-flight icing. Computational efficiency is obtained by applying the mesh displacement to an automatically selected small subset of the entire computational domain. The methodology is validated first in the case of deformations typical of fluid-structure interaction problems, including wing bending, a helicopter rotor in forward flight, and the twisting of a high-lift wing configuration. The approach is then assessed for aero-icing on two swept wings and compared against experimental measurements where available.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-242
Number of pages28
JournalInternational Journal of Numerical Methods in Fluids
Issue number5
Early online date3 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2015


  • in-flight icing
  • ALE
  • mesh movement
  • grid quality
  • orthogonality
  • frame analogy


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