Richard Smith's blog

Electric Vehicle + Wind Turbine + Kite = Wind Explorer

What do get if you cross an electric vehicle with a wind turbine and a kite? The eco-friendly car Wind Explorer. Dirk Gion and Stefan Simmerer, the brains behind Wind Explorer, recently caught the attention of Popular Science and others when they successfully drove 5,000 km across Australia in their one-of-a-kind car.

Jetpacks Revisited

Long time readers might remember when I covered jetpacks way back in August 2007. Also you might remember from that post that the jetpack, or rocket belt as it was originally known, hasn't really progressed much since it first flew (more like a 30 second hop) in 1961. It turns out that designing a flying machine compact enough and light enough to be worn as a backpack is a non-trivial - nay, near intractable - problem. Clearly lateral thinking is required, and that is exactly what the designers of the Jetlev Flyer employed to produce a water-powered jetpack.

Design for Simulation then Manufacture

Performing a Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulation on a detailed CAD model is no fun and, more importantly, it is often near useless. Why? Because given that an engineer has committed considerable time and effort to produce a detailed model ready for manufacture, I doubt they will be happy making additional model changes and the extensive rework that it will entail in response to the CFD results. Design for Manufacture (DFM) has been a successful and widely adopted strategy to reduce product manufacturing costs (bottom line improvement). However, such a focus on manufacturability in isolation from functional analysis and optimization (e.g., we can make a cheap airplane, but will it fly?) is missing a huge opportunity to provide enhanced functional capabilities for which customers are willing to pay a premium (top line improvement).

Rather than the Design for Manufacture mantra, I suggest a better approach is to adopt Design for Simulation, then Manufacture, where simulation could be any combination of stress analysis, CFD, etc.

CFD Bid Modeling

Kenneth Wong's Virtual Desktop over at Desktop Engineering ran an interview in May 2010 with Blake Courter and Jeff Waters from SpaceClaim. Blake and Jeff suggested that adding a customized 3D model to an engineering contract bid significantly improved the bid's chance of winning a contract. They coined the term Bid Modeling to describe this process. I think this same idea can be extended to Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) consultancy contract bidding - let's call it CFD Bid Modeling.

RC Car in Ground Effect Contract BidRC Car in Ground Effect Contract Bid

CAE Without CAD is Lame, CAD Without CAE is Blind

As well as dreaming up innovative ideas, small engineering companies and consultancies need access to cost-effective tools that let them explore, optimize, and validate their widgets. There are plenty of Computer-Aided Design (CAD) tools available, but CAD is not enough.

Albert EinsteinAlbert Einstein

Engines of Innovation

Larger companies often have great difficulty innovating at the product and service level. Often innovation in large companies is solely concerned with business process innovation, i.e., freeing up their rigid hierarchies to better manage their existing business processes. When it comes to new exciting products and services small companies are the engines of innovation in most industries.

Saturn V First StageSaturn V First Stage Rocket Engines

Build Your Own 3D Red-Blue Glasses

Did you know that Caedium can produce 3D stereoscopic images of your CFD results? You can view them in real time using red-blue glasses. The only drawback is obtaining a pair of said glasses - well not any more.

Caedium Anaglyph 3D Stereoscopic ImageCaedium Anaglyph 3D Stereoscopic Image

Dazzling Fluid Dress

The natural beauty of fluid flow is beyond doubt, just picture water vortices in a stream or smoke rising and mixing with the surrounding air. To reveal the intricacies of fluid flow in experiments, fluorescent dyes are often used. But what do you get when you weave tubes carrying pulses of fluorescent liquid into a dress? A dazzling display of light pulses.

Fluid Dress from Charlie Bucket on Vimeo.

CFD Tooling Up

Often with the manufacture of physical products tooling up can make or break a project. Imagine creating the jigs and constructing the custom machines for a new car such as the Chevy Volt, and you can easily see where a large portion of the estimated US$750M development costs are destined. The cost of tooling up serves as a huge barrier to entry for the car market and it is one of the main reasons that there are relatively few car companies producing cars for the masses. OK, but what does this have to do with Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) tooling up?

Flexible CFD Tooling Up With CaediumFlexible CFD Tooling Up With Caedium

Water: Blog Action Day 2010

The theme for the 2010 Blog Action Day is water. Unfortunately I don't have any big ideas to improve the inequality of access to clean water across the planet. However, I do hold out hope for efficiency improvements in industrial processes that use water. Why? Because when given the right incentives and resources, engineers' ingenuity can be channeled to overcome seemingly insurmountable problems. Looking for an example? Engineers landed men on the moon and returned them safely to earth over 40 years ago with the computing power of today's digital wrist watches.

Cyclone Separator: CFD SimulationCyclone Separator: CFD Simulation

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