ID University: CFD Software

By Chris Sims, EIT

Autodesk CFD
Autodesk CFD

This week, mechanical designer, Chris Sims, presented on the topic of “CFD Software” to the Boston and Dallas offices.  The acronym CFD stands for Computational Fluid Dynamics, which is used as a research or design tool for engineers. For non-engineers, CFD’s are a type of fluid mechanics that use complicated equations and algorithms called the “Navier- Stokes equations” to find and analyze the flow of fluid, heat transfer, and chemical reactions. Chris explains that the history of the Computational Fluid Dynamics began in the 1930’s, where it predicted fluid flow around a cylinder. In the past CFD’s were predominantly used in aerospace and automobile industries because it was so expensive. Now, CFD’s are used across many different industries such as medical research, aerospace design, heating and cooling and data centers.

Some notable benefits from using CFD’s include the ability to simulate multiple cooling options before design or installation, and the ability to create model simulations which can help identify “hot spots” and air flow patterns. With an existing data center, CFD’s are great in showing the best places to move equipment for the best efficiency, or it can indicate that it is time to get new equipment. Another important detail that to mention when referring to existing data centers, is that the information provided by the CFD model is only as good as the data you enter.

In terms of software, Chris introduced the product that Integrated Design Group uses, Autodesk Simulation CFD. He discussed the process of using the program. Before starting the model it is important to know when using this software, it’s critical to make a very generic model in Revit. Too much detail can become problematic with the software’s ability to solve the CFD simulation. The next step is to load the Revit information into the CFD software and assign materials. It is important to know the kilowatt and the prosource reference point when creating boundary conditions. Upon completing the boundary conditions, it is time to create a mesh which ultimately adds nodes, which are any point where two or more circuit elements meet, to the space. Next, it is time to run the simulation and analyze the results. The only way to know if the information from the model is accurate is when it has successfully converged. When analyzing your CFD model, you have the capability to cut sections through the model to view temperatures, air flow, static pressure, and velocity.

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