Integrated design optimization method for novel vapour-compression-cycle-based environmental control systems

F. Ascione, P. Colonna, C. M. De Servi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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The aircraft Environmental Control System (ECS) is the primary consumer of non-propulsive power at cruise conditions, hence, its performance optimization is crucial for the reduction of specific fuel consumption. A novel integrated system design optimization method is presented: thermodynamic cycle, component sizing and working fluid are taken into account simultaneously. This method was applied to the ECS of large rotorcraft based on a Vapour Compression Cycle system electrically driven by a high-speed centrifugal compressor. Steady-state and lumped parameter system component models have been developed using the Modelica acausal modelling language. The optimization design framework consists of an in-house code, featuring a Python-Modelica interface. The study case refers to a critical operating condition: the helicopter is on the ground during a hot and humid day. The working fluid is R-134a. The multi-objective optimization targets the maximization of the system efficiency and the minimization of system weight. The results show that more efficient systems can be designed only with heavier components. The design feasibility of high-speed centrifugal compressors is demonstrated. The advantage of an integrated system design optimization framework for complex energy systems is proved, allowing for the analysis of the impact of both component design and working fluid on system performance.

Original languageEnglish
Article number121261
Number of pages18
JournalApplied Thermal Engineering
Publication statusPublished - 2024


The authors gratefully acknowledge the contribution of Dr. Vincent Pommé of Airbus Helicopters for the continued support and for providing suggestions and information regarding the selection of the design point and of the VCC system configuration. The authors are also grateful to their colleague Andrea Giuffré for his advice during the development of the centrifugal compressor model. This research is supported by Aeronamic BV, by the Applied and Engineering Sciences Division (TTW) of the Dutch Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) via the Technology Program of the Ministry of Economic Affairs of the Netherlands (Grant No. 17091 ).


  • Environmental control system
  • Helicopter/aircraft auxiliary systems
  • High-speed centrifugal compressor
  • Integrated design optimization
  • More electric aircraft/rotorcraft
  • Vapour compression cycle


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