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It’s Magic

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
Arthur C. Clark

I’ve often called mechanical engineers magicians because whenever I listen to them speak about what they do the only thing that comes to mind is magic. Much like the first time I looked at Engineering Fluid Dynamics (EFD). EFD is a different breed of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software. EFD shares the same mathematical background as CFD but 7 key technologies make doing fluid flow and heat transfer analysis much easier.

The mechanical engineer and his hat of tricks -- my apologies to the ladies of mechanical engineering but this is the only image I could find.

The mechanical engineer and his hat of tricks -- my apologies to the ladies of mechanical engineering but this is the only image I could find.

OK I know whenever some people hear the words easy-to-use and software in the same sentence they may think it is marketing-speak for dumbed-down. But EFD is not dumbed-down CFD. EFD just takes the pains associated with the “computational” side of using software and leaves the mechanical engineer with the ability to solve their design problem. Now mind you, the user still has to be a subject-matter expert … someone who is familiar with the physics and performance of the type of product that is being designed. Otherwise, you run the risk of garbage in, garbage out (which is what you’d get from any other tool).

The EFD 7 key technologies consist of :

  • Seamless integration with major MCAD systems enables users to use MCAD geometry directly and without the hassle of translating geometry.
  • An automatic rectangular adaptive mesher that can actually mesh real-world geometry takes away the pain of having to find the best possible mesh to obtain accurate results. Now this isn’t a black-box approach… if you really want to tweak the mesh you can but if you’d rather not, then you don’t have to. This concept reminds me of our car – it’s got that fab S-Tronic twin-clutch transmission which is an automatic transmission that can change gears quickly. It basically gives you more power and control than traditional automatic transmissions but the neat thing about it is that you have the ability to use the “sport mode” where you can manually override the system if you decide you decide you need more control.  Fantastic!
  • Automatic modified wall function lets users obtain accurate simulations including near-wall boundary conditions without specialized expertise.
  • Automatic determination of laminar, transitional and turbulent flow regimes so you wouldn’t have to do it manually yourself! I’ve often heard people marvel at that because of the difficulty of figuring how to deal with those transitions with other tools.
  • Real-time feedback about the solution progress such as the convergence of the solution residual errors etc ensure that the user gets engineering results in a timely manner.
  • The cloning feature enables users to conduct what-if analysis without having to mess with setting up the model again for analysis. This technology in and of itself offers significant design time savings.
  • And last but not least is an easy to use GUI which was developed by engineers _for_ engineers. The GUI is based on plain ol’ English… wave goodbye to technical jargon like y+ value or Dirichlet Boundary Conditions and say hello to walls, inlets or outlets.

It’s important to note that some vendors may have adopted one or two of these technologies but it’s the unique combination of the 7 that make EFD truly and well magical.

Eclipse Combustion uses EFD to ensure optimal mixing of gases, improve efficiency and reduce emissions in industrial gas burners. Image courtesy of Eclipse Combustion.

Eclipse Combustion uses EFD to ensure optimal mixing of gases, improve efficiency and reduce emissions in industrial gas burners. Image courtesy of Eclipse Combustion.

Countless organizations around the world have discovered EFD and are using it on a day-to-day basis. One of my favorites is Eclipse Combustion.

Eclipse was commissioned to build a large air heater with gas burner which had a low operating temperature. Ad Heijmans, Development Manager at Eclipse explained: “the customer application required a temperature of 500°C with a temperature distribution of ±100°C to be achieved by mixing cold air with air at 1700°C from the Eclipse burner”. The main challenge was to mix the hot and the cold air without cooling the flame too much and producing excess emission. To further complicate the matter, the customer needed to get a uniform temperature as fast as possible in as small a chamber as possible with minimum loss of pressure.  I won’t tell you how they actually met this challenge (for that you’ve got to click here ) but Mr. Heijmans’ experience is typical of EFD users.  “EFD is simple enough for any engineer to use” explains Heijmans who has a degree in chemical engineering. “The results are easy to understand and interpret by an engineer who is already familiar with the subject matter. With EFD we now can answer more customer questions and this ability is now a natural extension of our services.”  Better customer service is not the only benefit though… they’ve found that EFD now helps them proactively solve problems. “We initially decided to invest in this technology so we could solve problems but now we focus on finding issues before they became problems.”

Now that’s magic.

If you’re ready for some magic, I suggest you start by taking a look at any of these multimedia resources. Hopefully, you’ll find something you like.

Until next time,

Seamless Integration, Rectangular Adaptive Mesh, Transitional, Fluid Flow, CFD, Turbulent, Convergence, Laminar, What-If, Cloning

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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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