This Week in CFD

FlowKit’s CEO on CFD, LBM, and the Cloud

On the Life Upfront blog you’ll find a two part interview with Jonas Latt, CEO of FlowKit. FlowKit provides consulting services for the open source code Palabos, a CFD solver based on the Lattice Boltzmann Method (LBM). Here are my highlights from the interview.

Mixing simulation computed with Palabos. Image from FlowKit.

Mixing simulation computed with Palabos. Image from FlowKit.

  • Latt says LBM differs from traditional CFD methods in terms of computational efficiency and level of sophistication of the physical modelling.
  • The CFD user will find the solution from an LBM method will be smoother and faster on the computer.
  • Palabos is an acronym for “parallel Lattice Boltzmann solver” but also means “crazy” in Greek. [It is also observed that the CEO’s last name is Latt as in lattice.]
  • Open source provides for a strong collaboration with academia in which academics can improve the code through additions or modifications.
  • One difference about their approach to open source for CFD is that because of the relative scarcity of fluid dynamicists who can program, Flowkit assumes the primary burden of development and views other users as a validation resource.
  • The primary value of open source is to develop trust with your users because they can see what’s inside what would otherwise be a black box.
  • The cloud is a natural evolution of CFD because it makes more computing resources available – and CFD needs a lot of computing resources.
  • Cloud resources make CFD more democratic. [There’s that word again.]
  • CFD software has to be redesigned from scratch to take full advantage of the cloud.
  • LBM is inherently more parallelizable than RANS.
  • Latt believes that CAD is much much less well suited for the cloud than CAE.
  • FlowKit, the cloud-based version of Palabos, is due for release at the end of this year.

Here are the links for all the details.

Errors and Omissions

In my rush to complete last week’s This Week in CFD post, I neglected to give full credit for the image of the thermal simulation of a surface mounted TO263 as computed by Mentor Graphics’ FloTHERM. You can find all the details on their blog at this URL.


  • simFlow 1.0 Beta, an open source CFD solver based on OpenFOAM, is now available.
  • CFD Support announced OpenFOAM training courses to be held in May 2013.
  • A direct interface between modeFRONTIER and Sculptor has been released and will be the subject of a webinar on 02 May.
  • Kitware released Paraview 3.98.1 for CFD solution visualization.
  • Friendship Systems announced the release of Friendship Framework v3.0 for the “simulation-driven design of flow-exposed surfaces.”
  • AeroDynamic Solutions announced the release of its turbomachinery CFD code ADS 5.6 featuring structured-unstructured mesh coupling, expanded mesh partitioning, and split flow meshing support among others.
  • This sneak peak at Symscape’s Caedium v5 discusses enhanced accuracy.
  • ufo-cfd v2 is available for download.
  • In a brief blog post you can read about the difference between CAD and CAE. [My way of summarizing the issue is this: CAD is geometric design, CAE is functional design.]
  • Monica Schnitger shares thoughts on the pros and cons of open source CAE in an article from Economic Engineering.
  • Ventilation Control using CFD Modelling for Cultural Buildings Conservation
  • An article from CD-adapco shows a fun application of CFD to soapbox derby cars.
STAR-CCM+ solution of flow over a soapbox derby car. Image from CD-adapco.

STAR-CCM+ solution of flow over a soapbox derby car. Image from CD-adapco.


  • Survey time: NAFEMS wants to know about your analysis needs. [There have been so many industry surveys this year that I’ll apologize in advance if I’ve already posted this one.]
  • At their recent forum, CIMdata released some details of the PLM market during 2012. The overall PLM market grew 11.3% to $33.3 billion. The simulation and analysis portion of the PLM market continued its “rapid expansion.” [Huzzah!]
  • CD-adapco published edition 34 of their Dynamics magazine. [Registration required.]
  • CAD/CAM Reviews is a new website for reviews of various CAE software including CFD. [At the time of writing FLOW-3D is featured on the home page.]
  • In another market research report, the global CAD market is forecast to grow 8.6% year over year from 2012 through 2016 to $8.3 billion. CAE on the other hand has a forecast growth of 11.18% [accurate to two decimal places!] during the same period to $3.4 billion.

Ciespace CFD in the Cloud

Ciespace (pronounced SEE-space) has taken the wraps off their cloud-based CFD software or as they put it “a SaaS CAE platform for advanced mechanical engineering design and analysis.” Their CFD capability is based on OpenFOAM.

Flow solution from Ciespace CFD.

Flow solution from Ciespace CFD.

Not surprisingly, I am interested in their meshing capabilities which appear substantial. You can import CAD geometry, generate a mesh, and export it for Fluent and OpenFOAM (other platforms coming). The capability is said to include fully automated tet and hex meshing including a hex dominant meshes with boundary layer resolution. Adaptivity is provided via company founder Prof. Kenji Shimada’s Bubble Mesh technology.

Ciespace also has posted several videos on Vimeo that are worth watching.


Water Droplets or Something Else?

You may see the beauty of simple water droplets in Alexander Osokin’s photography. I see grid points and a mesh.

Water droplet photographs by Alexander Osokin. Image from Environmental Graffiti.

Water droplet photographs by Alexander Osokin. Image from Environmental Graffiti.

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