Auto-meshing for CFD is here... and it actually works!

Despite being used by many engineers, CFD is far from straightforward. So when someone claims to have made the process easier, it is understandably met with scepticism.

Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) has been a valued development tool for engineers in selecting materials, understanding phase change, and honing geometry in fluid flow applications for many years. And one area where it has seen considerable success is in the development of internal combustion engines.

By analysing the different geometries and surface finishes of materials, cylinders and pipe work – research and development time has been slashed while considerable gains in performance have been found.

It was this reason that saw motorsport as an early CFD adopter. But despite the benefits, issues remain including long processing times, meshing difficulties and trust in the data.

Experienced engine developer Brian Kurn currently heads valvetrain development at US based high-performance engine producer, ECR Engines. As a practiced CFD user, primarily to analyse internal flows in the engine, Kurn is all too aware of the issues associated with CFD.

"In the past, the run-times to do the simulations took too long and when we had to create our own mesh, we really suffered with variability between users," he says. "It can affect your results, introduce inconsistency and ultimately your trust in the data can go out of the window."

As any seasoned user knowns, the quality of the mesh is crucial and while developers have tried to devise CFD programmes that would automatically generate it, a lack of accuracy meant users usually have to put up with the ensuing errors.

"I never believed that an effective automatic meshing tool would happen in my lifetime," says Kurn. "I thought we would be stuck with the longer run-times and other compromises."

However, US firm Convergent Science is laying claim to an automated meshing solution that does away with the errors. It says users supply a triangulated surface and a series of guidelines and Converge software creates a grid at run-time.

Convergent Science's marketing director Rob Kaczmarek, says: "Users struggle with hard-to-define areas and this leads them to go to a larger-sized mesh, maybe up to 1mm, in order to save time. Unfortunately accuracy suffers with this approach.

"Converge refines the mesh when and where it is needed at run-time, retaining accuracy, while keeping run times manageable."

Having heard such claims before, Kurn along with many other users were sceptical. But upon using it his view changed.

"We gained literally weeks on some developments in 2014," he says. "Knowing the exact parameters of key items such as combustion chamber, intake and exhaust ports meant when we make changes, we can accurately measure those and have complete control over them."

Author
Justin Cunningham

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