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Cooking with CFD

Nazita Saye

Nazita Saye

Posted Dec 22, 2009
2 Comments

I’m the first to admit that I’m no Julia Child – but from time to time I get the baking bug … especially around the holidays. I love the smell of holiday baking… cinnamon and cloves and mix them in with the smell of a live Christmas tree … divine.  Unfortunately holiday baking is a bit of a hassle because I have to keep a keen watch over the goodies in the oven and turn them around to make sure they bake evenly. Before you think I’ve gone off the deep end, hear me out. We have a fan-assisted oven. These ovens move the hot air inside the oven so you get an even cooking temperature faster. Due to this increased effectiveness you can cook at a lower temperature. Not a bad concept but in reality it is far from true at the Saye household.  To get evenly cooked stuff, I need to turn whatever is inside around several times. Not good — especially for someone who likes to multitask and can get easily distracted.

CFD image of airflow inside single-tray, fan-assisted oven. Image courtesy of Mentor Graphics, Mechanical Analysis Division.

Simulation of airflow inside a single-tray, fan-assisted oven. Image courtesy of Mentor Graphics, Mechanical Analysis Division.

I had given up all hope of baking goodies for the holidays until I watched a recent presentation on optimizing flow fields — to watch this demo please follow this link  Simulating and Optimizing Flow Fields for the on-demand video.  The model used for the presentation was very similar to the oven we have at home. The analysis showed that the air near the oven door remained much cooler  (I grabbed a still shot from the presentation to show you what I mean).   Ok so I already knew this by observing the sad state of 1/2 of my cupcakes but seeing the analysis results made me feel marginally better – at least now I know I’m not that _bad_ of a cook. Oh and you may be pleased to hear that after watching this presentation I baked a batch of cookies and moved the pan closer to the back of the oven (where the fan sits) and guess what? The cookies were not too toxic!

I guess the moral of the story is: when dealing with flow fields of any type, simulation can be an incredibly valuable tool for design engineers. It can help you visualize and understand problem areas so you can create much better designs and ultimately alleviate some heartache for your customers down the line.

Hmmm… maybe I’ll ask Santa for a new oven next year but I’ll have to make sure the elves in Santa’s workshop use CFD to build the perfect oven ;-)  Speak with you in January!

Happy Holidays,
Nazita

elves

PS. As I’m typing today’s post, London is covered in a light coating of snow so I would like to wish you and yours a warm, safe and festive holiday season. Thank you for your support during the past year and I look forward to speaking with you next year.

Visualize, CFD, Airflow, Flow Field, Design Engineer, Fan-Assisted Oven

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About Nazita Saye

Nazita SayeI have been involved with the CFD user community in one shape or another since 1999 -- when the NIKA team first introduced FloWorks to the engineering community. Over the years I've seen the market evolve and I still marvel at the wide range of products that are being designed with our tools. As the Manager of External Communications for the Mechanical Analysis Division at Mentor, it is my privilege to bring some of our customer stories to you. Visit CFD doesn’t mean Color For Directors

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Comments 2

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As a very young CFD engineer more years ago than I care to remember I was asked to do a consultancy job that involved replicating a standard oven test involving the cooking of small cakes. What was really bizarre about the project was that I was asked to match some measurements the customer had done involving water as the working fluid (don't ask!). We got great results, but for the next 10 years I received countless calls from people asking me why I had modelled a domestic oven in a cooker with water! BTW - for more on test methodologies for domestic ovens, please see - http://efficient-products.defra.gov.uk/spm/download/document/id/601

Ian Clark
9:42 AM Jan 7, 2010

They obviously don't bake Ian. You bake fragile stuff such as American cheesecake in a bain-marie (water bath). The water serves as an insulator and helps regulate the temperature. This way your cake bakes gently while reducing the risk of cracking the top of the cheesecake. It also reduces the risk of drying out the goods and it helps you form a crispy crust for breads... lots of reasons why!

Nazita Saye
10:28 AM Jan 7, 2010

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