Richard Smith's blog

Is CFD Flawed?

There is a high profile debate going on in the motor racing media and motor racing discussion forums that Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) is flawed. The proof cited is the poor performance of Virgin Racing (VR) Formula 1 racecars in the 2010 F1 championship and repeated so far in this year's championship. Why is CFD deemed responsible for this sorry state of affairs? Because VR have proclaimed that the aerodynamic design of its cars forgoes wind tunnel testing and only uses CFD. What if the CFD-only strategy is merely a symptom rather than the cause of the problems at VR?

Open Wheel Race Car CFD SimulationIs CFD Flawed?

Barefoot Running: Springs, Dampers, and Pressure

I'm a little off topic with this post - more structural mechanics than fluid mechanics. Normal service will resume shortly, but in the mean time, I have to admit it - I'm a recovering barefoot runner. Recovering in the sense that no matter what I've tried up to now, whenever I run fast or long in barefoot shoes (oxymoron I know, bare with me) I end up with calf muscles that are so sore I can't run for days afterwards. Well I thought it was way past time to mine my engineering knowledge for some insight, and this is what I came up with.

Barefoot Running ShoesBarefoot Running Shoes: Vibram Five Fingers Bikila

Wind Turbine Comparison Study

In an effort to offset electrical load and decrease its carbon footprint, the city of Reno, Nevada is investigating various types of wind turbines (and photovoltaic solar cells too).

Green Energy DashboardReno's Green Energy Dashboard

Computational Fluid Dynamics News Network

We are pleased to announce the launch of the Computational Fluid Dynamics News Network - CFDNN - the world's first 24/7 TV channel dedicated to all things CFD. Like other 24 hour news shows, CFDNN will provide an addictive mix of news, technology, weather, entertainment, gossip, opinion, movies, and sports, but all viewed through a CFD prism. I guarantee you'll never have seen anything like it.

Example of CFDNN TV: Redbot roving report

Modeling Traffic and Crowd Flows

What do traffic and crowds have in common? I'll give you a hint - they both flow. In fact they flow so much that the same governing principles at play in fluid flow can also be extended to simulate traffic flow and the motion of dense crowds.

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.

Open Wheel Race Car CFD SimulationOpen Wheel Race Car CFD Simulation

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 EffectRC 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

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