I’m Martin Leahy and This Is How I Mesh

I grew up and still live and work in Victoria, a southern state of Australia. I am lucky to have wonderful family of three children and a wonderful wife, Amy. I grew up on a sheep/cattle farm in Glenaroua, Victoria, a regional town consisting of not much more than a fire-station and farms, as the Glenaroua wiki attests to. I love a lot of the outdoor aspects of farm life (hunting, golf, cricket and footy). Competitive sporting activities with my older brother probably encouraged our academic pursuits and we both earned a Ph.D. in our respective fields.

In 1999 I managed to get a scholarship at La Trobe University in Melbourne and admitted to a B.Sc. in Space Science. Although I enjoyed physics immensely, mathematics subjects really diverted my attention so much that I switched to a B.Sc. Maths/Stats where I majored in Applied Mathematics. I finished my B.Sc Maths/Stats with an honours degree and started what would be a series of three CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific Industrial Research Organisation) scholarships in the area of numerical modelling and CFD: firstly in my honours year with a CSIRO scholarship, followed by a CSIRO summer internship, and then a CSIRO Ph.D. scholarship.

In 2003 I started my Ph.D. with the University of Melbourne in the Chemical Engineering Department. During my Ph.D. I was lucky enough to be supervised by two excellent CFD practitioners: Prof. Malcolm Davidson (University of Melbourne), and Dr. Phil Schwarz (CSIRO). My Ph.D. focused on developing partial differential equations (PDEs) for the reaction-transport modelling of chemical species associated with heap leaching of copper in rock piles. Heap leaching is a mining process used worldwide for extraction of low-grade minerals. Solving the PDEs involved numerical solutions and I used CFX4 to run the CFD simulations.

Following my Ph.D., in 2006 I undertook two CSIRO post-doc fellowships focusing on multiphase CFD for the minerals processing industry, and porous media heat and mass transport in geosequestration of CO2.

From 2012-2015 I worked as a consulting engineer in the oil and gas industry for Wood, which further developed my CFD and engineering skills. Following Wood, I worked as a data scientist and image recognition specialist in the drone industry, simultaneous to being a stay-at-home dad.

In 2018 I started working for Applied CCM working with Dr. Darrin Stephens, whom I worked with at CSIRO previously. Applied CCM is the distributor for Pointwise in Australia and New Zealand and my role includes Pointwise technical support, Pointwise training, OpenFOAM training, and general CFD consulting. I’ve always enjoyed teaching, so my current role in supporting and running Pointwise and OpenFOAM training suits me well.

  • Location: Melbourne, Australia
  • Current position: Senior CFD Engineer
  • Current computer: Ubuntu on Intel Xeon E5-2630 x 12 core, 256 GB RAM
  • One word that best describes how you work: Curiously

What software or tools do you use every day?

Pointwise for meshing of course. When consulting we use the CFD solver best suited for the task, whether that be open-source (Caelus/OpenFOAM) or commercial (ANSYS CFX, Fluent). We use Pointwise for meshing, irrespective of the project. For word processing, Latex with Overleaf, and we really make the most of Google Suite for calendaring, spreadsheets, and more. We also use Skype and/or Zoom for conferencing. When programming I use Bitbucket and gitkraken for git, Emacs and pycharm for Python, and terminator for the command line.

What does your workspace look like?

What do you see are the biggest challenges facing CFD in the next 5 years?

  1. Cloud-based CFD: making cloud-based CFD workflows as easy to setup, run, and postprocess as if it were on the desktop.
  2. Democratization of CFD: making CFD more accessible to non-CFD users whilst also ensuring the results are still reasonably accurate.
  3. High-order CFD: having a solver that can handle high-order meshes, such as those generated using Pointwise.

What are you currently working on?

I am working on a few things at the moment. I have been developing and testing a mesh adaption tool we have at Applied CCM. Using a combination of Python, Glyph scripting, Pointwise, and Caelus, a point cloud source is generated based on the CFD results and Pointwise is called to re-mesh the computational domain using the source for adaptation. See the webcast video, blog, and picture below.

I have also been working on several CFD consulting projects. For a recent project, we tracked the fate of rain drops around buildings and canopies built for pedestrian comfort.

What would you say is your meshing specialty?

Using point cloud files as sources for re-meshing. This came about through the mesh adaption tool we have developed at Applied CCM.

Any tips for our users?

Turn on the Auto Start Session Transcript so that when you start a Pointwise session a Glyph file is automatically recorded, closed, and saved when the session ends. This can be handy when you wish you had journaled a Glyph file having just meshed something that needs scripting, or have encountered an issue that needs reproducing for support.

What project are you most proud of and why?

My post doctorial research and journal papers that I wrote from that period on CFD modelling of multiphase electrowinning tank. An electrowinning tank is an arrangement of rectangular plates closely spaced 30mm apart and passes current through each anode and cathode into a copper electrolyte solution. The electrical current generates oxygen bubbles on the anode and plates pure copper into a solid form on the cathode.

To model this electrowinning tank, I created a fully structured mesh (in ICEM, which is what we had at the time) for an entire industrial sized electrowinning tank with 121 anode-cathode pairs, and a liquid feed in and removal pipe. I used an O-H topology for the mesh and wrapped inflation layers onto the anode/cathode plates where the bubbles (anode) and copper gradient (cathode) generate higher speeds.

What CFD solver and postprocessor do you use most often?

ANSYS CFX or Caelus and OpenFOAM for the CFD solver, and FieldView, ParaView, or ANSYS CFD Post for postprocessing.

I prefer to use Caelus because we can use CPL for managing the workflows, as well as for pre and postprocessing.

Are you reading any interesting technical papers we should know about?

I am reading a paper related to wind engineering and turbulence models and wind velocity profiles, a thesis on heap leaching, and finally a paper regarding mesh adaption written by Pointwise staff.

Do you plan on attending any conferences or workshops this year?

I plan on writing a paper and attending AFMC 2020 by the Australasian Fluid Mechanics Society.

What do you do outside the world of CFD?

I spent lots of time with my family, hunting, and generally just fulfilling my golf addiction: playing golf, watching golf, and competing in golf competitions.

What is some of the best CFD advice you’ve ever received?

Don’t believe CFD unless it makes physical sense. And try to validate CFD results either directly with experiments, from an analytical solution analogy, or with existing and accepted CFD results from journal papers.

If you had to pick a place to have dinner, where would you go?

Camping anywhere in the bush with a camp oven roast.

About Travis Carrigan

A Pointwise engineer helping other engineers solve their meshing problems.
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