This Week in CFD

This week’s CFD news is chock full o’ applications with nary a software announcement in sight. These apps include two studies of virus particle transmission on aircraft, one for aeroacoustics outside the aircraft, and another for an infamous detonation. Here you see my “CFD application of the week” as published by Gaylord, Blades, & Parsons in Nature. You’ll have to read on to find out what it is (but try to guess first).


CFD APPLICATION OF THE WEEK. Pressure on the bottom surface of hammerhead shark cephalofoils from A Hydrodynamics Assessment of Hammerhead Shark Cephalofoil by Gaylord, Blades, & Parsons in Nature. Image from

From Pointwise

CFD for…

  • a cycling helmet that costs £350 (about $450 for us Yanks). [I had no idea they were so expensive but I suppose if you’re a triathlete, the performance benefits they claim would be worth it.]
  • a Voronoi bicycle helmet for “safety, comfort, and fashion.” [emphasis mine] [I would love to see these two helmets go head to head.]
  • hydro turbines and pumps.
A cycling helmet with a Voronoi based design. “The innovative design also aims to give the rider an effective balance between safety, comfort and fashion whilst with its breathable and aerodynamic design.” [Included mostly for the word “whilst.”] Image from See link above. [An alert reader whose name I’ve forgotten submitted this article. Thank you and take your credit by commenting on this post.]

CFD for Pandemics and Other Disasters

  • [As you may know, I’ve been reluctant to share any simulations related to the spread of virus particles. Especially early in the pandemic, my concern was that well-intentioned but otherwise unvalidated simulations of stuff blowing around would be misleading and dilute the true science, especially in light of the seriousness of the situation. I’ve softened my stance on this a bit, hence the following applications.]
  • The International Air Transport Association, Boeing, Airbus, and Embraer used CFD simulations to assuage the flying public’s fears by demonstrating that the risk of getting COVID-19 from cabin air is low. Of course, the haters in the comments dismiss the study because it was done by the people who’ll benefit from increased air travel. And while I personally have confidence that the cabin environment is as low risk as the simulations show, all that goes out the window when passengers don’t wear their masks.
  • ANSYS recently published a case study in which a simulation of ventilation in a gym helped the business owner make changes to enhance his customers’ safety. [Be certain to check out the animations.]
  • If you’re interested in guidelines for aerosol transmission of COVID-19, check out this open FAQ on Google docs.
  • The Today show had a feature on indoor ventilation and transport of virus particles including not only a video of the simulation but an interview with CFD expert Dr. Rainald Lohner.
  • The U.S. Department of Defense and United Airlines did a study of aircraft cabin air that concluded the risk of inhaling virus particles is 0.003% as long as all passengers wear masks.
Screen capture of a CFD simulation performed with Viper::Blast of the explosion in Beirut’s port. As originally reported in Digital Engineering.


Researchers at KAUST are using WMLES to study aeroacoustics. Image from

Simple and To The Point

OK, I’ll admit there are times when I strain credulity in my attempts to connect a work of art to CFD or meshing or geometry. But Serusier’s Tetrahedrons needs no handwaving. Sometimes a tet is just a tet. Thanks to alert reader Carolyn for alerting me to this painting which she was able to see in person.

Paul Serusier, Tetrahedrons, 1910. Image from the Musee d’Orsay’s website. See link above.

Bonus: Not CFD, but I draw the line when robots intrude (successfully) into curling, aka chess on ice.

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