Computational Fluid Dynamics Overview

Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) is the numerical analysis of fluid flow, heat transfer, and related phenomena. CFD solvers contain a complex set of algorithms used for modeling and simulating the flow of fluids, gases, heat, and electric currents. Many technological advances in aeronautics, automobiles, and space would not be possible without CFD. Applications such as aerofoil design in aeronautics, drag simulation in automobile design, jet and thermal flow in engine design, and cooling airflow in an electronic product use the CDF methodology.


CFD enables you to predict fluid flow, heat and mass transfer, and chemical reactions (explosions) and related phenomena. It is used in almost all industrial sectors: food processing, water treatment, marine engineering, automotive, aerodynamics, and gas turbine design. With the help of CFD software, fluid flow problems are analyzed faster than by testing, in more detail, at an earlier stage in the design cycle, for less money, and with lower risk.

The foundation of CFD is built on the Navier-Stokes equations, the set of partial differential equations that describe fluid flow. With CFD, the area of interest is subdivided into a large number of cells or control volumes. In each of these cells, the Navier-Stokes partial differential equations can be rewritten as algebraic equations that relate the velocity, temperature, pressure, and other variables, such as species concentrations, to the values in the neighboring cells.? These equations are then solved numerically, yielding a complete picture of the flow down to the resolution of the grid. The resulting set of equations can then be solved iteratively, yielding a complete description of the flow throughout the domain.

These techniques date back to the early 1970s, and the first commercial CFD software became available in the early 1980s. Since then, CFD has come a long way, and geometric flexibility has increased to the point where there are now very few geometries too complex to be represented accurately. Models have been developed for physical phenomena such as turbulence, multiphase flow, chemical reactions, and radiative heat transfer, and the usability of software has increased greatly, with powerful pre- and post-processors.

By solving the fundamental equations governing fluid flow processes, CFD provides information on important flow characteristics such as pressure loss, flow distribution, and mixing rates. CFD analysis complements traditional testing and experimentation, providing added insight and confidence in your designs. This results in better designs, lower risk, and faster time to the marketplace for product or processes.

CFD has become an integral part of the engineering design and analysis environment of many companies because of its ability to predict the performance of new designs or processes before they are manufactured or implemented. The use of CFD software can result in fewer iterations to the final design, shorter lead times, and fewer expensive prototypes to produce. CFD also encourages innovation because it enables cost-effective means for testing novel designs that would otherwise be too expensive and risky to investigate.