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There are three main methods of predicting the behavior of fluids and their interaction with the surrounding environment – experimental, analytical, and numerical. Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) refers to the numerical method of simulating steady and unsteady fluid motion using computational methods and hardware.
CFD simulation is a well-established methodology often used to replace or supplement experimental and analytical methods to aid the engineering design and analysis of everyday products. Compared to prototyping and experiments, CFD simulations are:
A CFD simulation involves the use of the fundamental laws of mechanics, governing equations of fluid dynamics and modeling to mathematically formulate a physical problem. Once formulated, computing resources use numerical methods to solve the equations using CFD software to obtain approximate solutions for the physical properties involved.
CFD simulations are based on the Navier-Stokes equations used to describe the temperature, pressure, velocity, and density of a moving fluid. The accuracy of CFD simulations depend on the fidelity of the model, approximations and assumptions used, experimental validation and the computing resources available. It is important to characterize the uncertainties and errors in the CFD simulation to use it as an effective tool in design and analysis.
No matter the software used, all CFD simulations follow these generalized steps:
CFD simulation software is used in a wide range of engineering applications whenever there is a need to understand or predict fluid flow and heat transfer and the resulting effect on the design of a product or system. In industrial product design, CFD simulation has progressed now to simulating the Multiphysics behavior in complex geometries enabling companies to fully understand and optimize their product design virtually before building a prototype.
Industries, where CFD simulation is widely used, include: