Computational Fluid Dynamics applications in the Industry

Aerospace and aeronautical industries: CFD is an integral part of the aerospace and aeronautical industries, as it provides a cost and time efficient means for aerodynamic analysis of wing/tail structure or fuselages. The role, however, of CFD in aerospace engineering is not restricted to aerodynamics. The numerical analysis applies to almost all of the critical components and systems of an aircraft. For example, excessive heat in the electronic components can lead to failure and reliability issues. Fuel delivery and engine cooling systems must be optimized. Cabin air conditioning/heating systems need to be analyzed. And the industry cannot afford to either over-conservatively design these systems (excessive cost) or prove efficiency/reliability by building multiple physical prototypes, testing in labs, and then re-designing, which is a long and expensive process. Because of these issues, CFD comes into play early and throughout the design process for multiple components and systems in the aircraft.

Automotive industry: The design capabilities offered by CFD have also been widely appreciated in the automotive industry, by influencing the design of automotive components. The automotive industry’s interest in CFD applications stems from its ability to improve automotive design and to reduce product cost and cycle time. The applications in this sector range from system level (e.g., exterior aerodynamics) to component level (e.g., disk brake cooling). The physics involved, which include some very complex thermo-fluids phenomena and cover a wide range of flow regimes, pose a great challenge for the desigh engineers, especially in view of the “dynamic” design environment of frequent design changes. The key is to utilize CFD in the early design phases so that design changes and fix-ups later are minimized. Proper use of CFD early, helps to significantly reduce prototyping needs and consequently, reduce cost and cycle time.

Chemical engineering: CFD finds also application in the field of chemical engineering. Since most chemical processing applications are conducted either partially or totally in the fluid phase, chemical engineers need a powerful tool to simulate material transport and heat transfer together with arbitrary chemical kinetics in all types of environments – gases, liquids, porous media, on surfaces, and within solid phases – or combinations of all of these. These techniques are especially valuable for solving problems in the biochemical, chemical, energy, fermentation, materials, mining, petroleum, pharmaceuticals, polymer, and waste-processing industries

Environmental engineering: The effectiveness of CFD is also proven in environmental engineering. Like in any other applications in the discipline of fluid mechanics, CFD, backed up by the tremendous computing power available today, is greatly impacting the whole practice in the topics that fall in the realm of modern environmental fluid mechanics. The examples are; indoor air flows laden with contaminants, flows around in-land and off-shore structures including buildings, bridges, stacks, towers, oil rigs, and effluents’ dispersion into the environment including rivers, lakes, estuaries, coastal waters, and atmosphere. One aspect of CFD that should not be underestimated concerns its potential in simulating and providing information on large scale natural disasters such as tsunami waves and volcano eruptions, which have the struck the southeaster Asia region in many occasions (flood disasters in Malaysia and Thailand, extreme heat waves in India etc. ).

Architecture and construction: The fundamental nature of CFD as an engineering tool allows its applications to expand in multiple engineering disciplines. In the thematic subject of architecture and construction, CFD can play an integral role in all areas of building design, providing accurate and time-efficient simulations of building performance relating to air flow, temperature, pressure, and other similar parameters. The benefits of computational fluid dynamics software as a design assistance tool are undisputed, as it is actively bridging the gap between architecture and engineering, particularly for architects, heating ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) engineers and those in the construction sector who wish to better optimize building designs.

Cross-disciplinary properties: It is evident from the preceding discussion that CFD inherently cross-disciplinary subject. It is a powerful tool that can be applied to a variety of technological applications. Its fundamental concepts are based on applied mathematics, numerical methods and fluid mechanics. The implementation of CFD requires practitioners to be exceptionally skilled in mathematics and modeling, well versed in physical phenomena and able to program and work on sophisticated computers. The diverse nature of CFD encourages the synthesis between various scientific fields and engineering disciplines and it can be a very fertile ground for the development of synergies inside the academic community.