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Analyze and Solve Fluid Flow Problems


Apr 27 2018

Introduction to CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics)

One of the most complex design challenges involves fluid forces such as water, air, gasoline, helium, or any other fluid contained within solid parts or moving around them. Because fluids can easily change direction, velocity, and pressure, it’s difficult to calculate and anticipate the myriad of ways fluid forces can affect a model. For instance, if you’re trying to calculate the lift and drag forces placed on the wing of an airplane, you need to know how fast the air is moving, how fast the plane is moving, the direction of airflow, and factor in the possibility of turbulence. As you can imagine, this is nearly impossible to do by hand.

Introduction to CFD – Introduction to the Course

In the case of an airplane wing, it could take as few as 10 and as many as 100 models before getting the right design. It’s common to run into problems before finalizing designs. Airplane wing complications can include lack of lift force, the wing only allowing the plane to fly at a certain altitude, materials not holding up against the elements, or the wing only lasting for a certain number of flights. As you can see, there are many scenarios that affect wing design and getting to the right design.

CFD software helps expedite this process. It takes the solid geometry you’ve modeled and applies fluid dynamics to the model. As long as there’s a domain established (an enclosed volume that contains the fluid), the design scenario can be simulated with highly accurate results. This is done by generating a mesh of the model, which breaks the geometry down into tiny segments that can be solved individually, then running the solver repeatedly with increasing accuracy. With a refined mesh and enough simulations to achieve an accurate result, you can significantly decrease the number of design iterations and prototypes, saving an enormous amount of time, money, and materials.

The first half of this course focuses on CFD theory. It dives into the steps of the CFD process, the fundamental governing equations, the finite volume method, and important concepts related to meshing, boundary conditions, and turbulence modeling. Understanding CFD theory provides the foundation needed to learn the practical applications of CFD, which is the focus of the second half of this course. With interactive case studies and hands-on exercises, you’ll set up your own CFD simulations using SimScale, a cloud-based CFD solver.

By the end of this course, you’ll develop a solid foundation in CFD theory, understand how to upload a CAD model, create a mesh, apply boundary conditions, obtain a CFD solution, and visualize and interpret the results.

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James Jepsen
James Jepsen

About the Author

James Jepsen

SolidProfessor Senior Content Manager and electric guitar pedal-head.