FloEFD.V5 for CATIA Helps Save Four Months in Design of Automotive Valve
VENTREX Automotive GmbH, Graz, Austria, saved four months in the design of an automotive valve by taking advantage of FloEFD.V5 CATIA V5-embedded computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation software. "In the past, we would have had to build and test at least 50 valves in order to get the design right," said Peter Pfaffenwimmer, Project Manager for VENTREX Automotive GmbH, Graz, Austria. Daniel Gaisbacher, also a Project Manager for VENTREX, added that: "CAD-embedded CFD made it possible to determine simulation results nearly as fast as we changed the design. The result is that we were able to improve the flow rate of our new valve by 15% while eliminating about 50 prototypes and reducing time to market by 4 months."
Automotive air conditioning systems are beginning to use CO2 as the refrigerant because it does not damage the ozone layer and also has a very low impact on global warming. But CO2 based systems need to operate at pressures 7 to 10 times higher than previous generation systems and this requires redesign of many components. Among the components most affected by the change is the valves used to evacuate and charge the system. Most important, the pressure drops seen in existing valves are too high to enable the required flow rates. But reducing the pressure drop of valves is challenging because of the complexity of internal flow passages caused by the presence of components used to open and close the valve.
In the past, engineers would make design changes based on educated guesses. For each design change they had to build and test a prototype of the valve. This process was time-consuming and expensive and the test results did not provide diagnostic information that would help engineers determine whether or not the design change had the intended effect. CFD makes it possible to build a software prototype of the valve that can be solved to determine the pressure drop of any particular design iteration without having to build a prototype. The greatest obstacle to the use of CFD has been that traditional CFD codes require the user to have a deep understanding of the computational aspects of fluid dynamics in order to be certain of obtaining accurate results.
But FloEFD.V5 greatly simplifies the simulation process by extending CATIA V5 functionality to include fluid flow and heat transfer simulation within a single user environment. "We selected FloEFD.V5 because it simplifies the process of performing fluid flow analysis to the point where it can be accomplished by any engineer," Gaisbacher said. "By using CFD software that is embedded into our CAD software we could evaluate the performance of each new design iteration almost as fast as we could conceive it. This made it possible to quickly improve the performance of the design. We reduced pressure drop to the point that flow rate improved by about 15% in the final design at any given pressure. We reduced the number of prototypes that were required during the design process by about 50, which saved a considerable amount of money but most importantly let us bring the product to market faster. We have already shipped this product to customers and they have verified that it performs nearly exactly as predicted by the simulation."
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