Despite the broad reach and the growth in computational fluid dynamics (CFD) tools and methods over the past two decades, the ability to access this technology remains outside the reach of many small and medium manufacturers (SMM) – the so-called “missing middle.”
On the heels of several federal projects designed to encourage the use of high performance computing in industry, the CFD design firm TotalSim is piloting a vertical application approach to the virtual prototyping process through funding secured from the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program at the Department of Energy. The vertical application approach recognizes that complex systems are often made of several simpler components, each of which needs to be modeled and treated appropriately to capture the performance of the complete system. The TotalSim team has templated the modeling approach appropriate to each of these classes of flow, enabling these to be applied in isolation or in combination.
The prototype application – the Fan Portal – evolved from conversations with Horton Inc., a leading provider of advanced airflow management solutions and one of TotalSim’s existing customers. Meeting a critical requirement for the development process, Horton engineers fully described to TotalSim their current engineering design and testing processes and were intimately involved in helping to shape the tool and test the application during the development process. The web-based interface was connected to powerful Ohio Supercomputer Center systems, where the simulations model was built, run and post processed, returning back to the user pertinent performance metrics and pre-defined analysis data.
“The app was developed to replace an existing simulation method at a lower cost and a higher throughput, but it could very well have introduced simulation to an environment where none existed,” said Ray Leto, president of TotalSim.
While the current portal is very specific to Horton’s specifications, it is easily extensible to nearly any other type of fan. For instance, TotalSim could leverage the portal, with very minimal changes, to designing fans for various other applications, such as for cooling computer chips or powering a boat.
“The majority of the gain from the deployment of this technology is to allow initial or expanded access to expert-level simulation tools for SMMs,” said Leto. “The combination of easy-to-use web-based portals, proven and provable performance and low entry price appeals to a broad range of small and mid-sized companies.”
Project Lead: Raymond Leto, TotalSim
Research Title: Web-based CFD vertical applications using cloud-based HPC
Funding Source: U.S. Department of Energy