The Innovative CFD FAQ: Flow Solver Related Questions

This section of questions and answers deals with issues related to CFD flow solvers. There are a lot of packages out there, and I haven't even touched half of them, so I'm not going to pretend my knowledge is comprehensive on the subject, but here is my perspective on some issues that various readers of Innovative CFD have raise:

Can the Wind-US flow solver be used to model [some incompressible flow problem]?

Working in the aerospace industry as I do, I forget how much of the world works with low speed flows and liquids. As a result, even though I shouldn't be, I'm still surprised by how often I get inquiries like this. The answer is: it depends. Wind-US is a compressible flow solver, so incompressible flows are not its forte, but I have actually been fairly successful at modeling water with it. As a one-off sort of thing, it might be fine, but I would not recommend building your business processes around it. Also, it doesn't have the free surface capabilities that are often important for modeling liquids.

I need free CFD software that can model [some incompressible flow problem]. What do you recommend?

The best (most mature) free software that I know of for incompressible flows (and many other classes of applications) is OpenFOAM . Unfortunately, there is a definite learning curve associated with using this very powerful tool, so if you're expecting (and/or needing) an easy-to-use GUI-based interface, you are in for a hard time of it. But the same can be said for pretty much every other serious free CFD tool that I know of (at the moment).

I'm trying to use [some commercial flow solver]; can you help me figure out the settings I should use?

While I can sometimes give useful information in response to questions like this, I'm almost certainly not your best source of information. To date, I have not used Fluent or any of the other commercial CFD solvers , and as a result, I don't have personal knowledge of these tools. Your best recourse is to look at the documentation (both print and online) for your specific solver. Also, most such software has online forums where you can post questions to the user community (who are in a much better position to help you than I am). Beyond that, commercial software, by definition, has support available. If you have a legal copy of their software (you do, right?) you should consider using that resource.

Note that the above answer may change somewhat in future, since we at ITAC have started submitting proposals which, if funded, call for using commercial solvers.

I need a CFD package to solve [some specific class of problem]. What solver should I use?

First, check through the reviews of free CFD solvers . If you see something that seems to provide the capabilities you're looking for, then see if they have a web site where you can obtain more detailed information. I have provided links to many such sites in my reviews. If you still have questions, you can try to contact me . As I mentioned above , I have not been nearly as responsive to such inquiries as I used to be (and would like to be), but maybe with the FAQ in place, I'll have an easier time keeping up. If you're in a serious hurry, and you willing to pay for assistance in devising and implementing a strategy, contact me via the consulting inquiry page.

If you are finished looking over the flow solver related questions, you can return to the main CFD FAQ page or head back to the Innovative CFD home page and browse the other topics.

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