This Week in CFD

Welcome to another adventure in curated CFD news, curated being a fancy word for “whatever I find interesting.” Lots of hypersonics this week, lots of built environment applications this week, and a couple of cool animations. And toward the end there’s an article about CAD files that I’d like to read your comments about (about which I’d like to read your comments). Shown here is a mesh you really want to get right – nuclear reactor rod bundles.


  • As you know, Pointwise was recently acquired by Cadence Design Systems. Cadence is a leader in the EDA field who has recently begun broadening their portfolio of computational software with CFD: first Numeca, now us. One of the new opportunities this created was a second blogging platform to share CFD information, the Cadence CFD Blog. I wrote my first post there yesterday. Our plan is to continue to use both platforms, with original content on each and amplification of that content on the other. It also provides an opportunity to introduce Cadence’s blog readers to this new CFD stuff. [And who wouldn’t love to the opportunity to double their writing workload.] If I can write ’em both, I hope you can follow ’em both.
  • Speaking of blogs, ITI has added to their blog a series on model-based definition (MBD) and model-based enterprise (MBE). This complements other topics covered such as interoperability, their CADfix product, and more.
A model hypersonic craft undergoing tests in the 20 Inch Mach 6 Tunnel. Photograph published in Winds of Change, 75th Anniversary NASA publication, (pages 114-115), by James Schultz. NASA Identifier: L86-6865. source. [This brings back memories of an aircraft program I worked on early in my career as a CFDer.]


  • What’s the saying? “Disk space is cheap.” Perhaps true, relative to other computing hardware. But if you think hard disks have plateaued in terms of capacity, think again. Energy assisted magnetic recording can give us hard drives with 60TB of storage. [Isn’t it still true that the most bang for your computing buck comes from RAM?]
  • “High-order methods have the potential to overcome the current limitations of standard CFD solvers,” says the website for Argonne’s NEK solver.
  • Be aware that NAFEMS has a series of student awards for the best of simulation engineering.
  • Has anyone tried FreeCAD, the “open-source, 3D, parametric modeler”?
I’m a sucker for a grid pic. This one is from our friends at GridPro and their article about Spiked Blunt Bodies for Hypersonic Flights.

The Headings

  • With the pandemic bringing in-person conferences to a virtual halt [see what I did there?], the AIAA’s many CFD workshops have been shuffled around and rescheduled. The latest information has been compiled and posted on the AIAA CFD 2030 Integration Committee’s website, Just look at the list for AIAA SciTech this coming January.
    • 4th High Lift Prediction Workshop
    • 3rd Geometry and Mesh Generation Workshop
    • 1st Large Eddy Workshop on Smooth Body Separation
    • High-Fidelity CFD Workshop (nee High-Order CFD Workshop)
    • 9th Hover Prediction Workshop
  • You may infer, as I have, that all these workshop organizers feel confident that AIAA SciTech will be held in-person. I plan to attend.
  • Also, I hope you noticed that the mother of all CFD workshops, the Drag Prediction Workshop, is planning a 7th version at AIAA Aviation 2022.
Just a cool (presumably) CFD image (a “computer model” according to the source) of DARPA’s OpFires gound-launched hypersonic missile. Image from

CFD for…

  • urban air quality. [According to this study, the pedestrians in the Los Angeles of the Blade Runner movies would be living in a stew of toxic and viral particulates.]
  • the Aeolos P30 Racer, a boat. [I don’t mind boats. It’s the deep water around them that I have a problem with.]
  • built environments, featuring BricsCAD and SimScale.

From Cadence

Animated CFD simulation performed using SimScale of flow around a tall building. Image from See link above.

Don’t Mean Much

Making the Natural Unnatural

Artist Jennifer Frank works with a lot of discarded building materials to explore their innate materiality and elevate them beyond their mass-produced origins. As reported by American Scholar, her recent Rodified series involves work with wooden dowel rods. Some are assembled and hung indoors to create a play of form and shadow, solid and intangible. But her outdoor installations as shown here are what brought my browsing to a halt. She’s created a juxtaposition of the manufactured and the natural and brought this wood back to its forest source. As she says, placing them in nature adds the element of movement and returns them to a state of liveness as they sway in the breeze.

Jennifer Frank, Rodified Iterations, 2020. source

Reminder: The World Championship Air Race resumes in 2022.

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5 Responses to This Week in CFD

  1. jstults says:

    It is a cool image! Of course, you are correct: it is a volume rendering of a velocity contour from a CFD solution. Heavy reliance on both simulation and test for our OpFires development:

  2. Payam says:

    Happy to hear “Another fine mesh” is continuing! I’ve learnt a lot here. I should say while insanity of digital art is taking over the world, seeing a physical art is a privilege.

    About the CAD files and Engineering Data Platforms I am absolutely on board. Granular engineering data model, multi-tenant architecture and flexibility and user experience expansion are important. However, not every engineering system can be treated the same way in order to strongly respond to the complexity demands and when it comes to new and future emerging technologies including their process from a very computational approach till a very experimental approach and then test and certification and manufacturing the whole chain may collapse. Future must be part of it; therefore, futuristic developing tools must be part of it and they, I mean users, should be able to have their freedom to embed their tools and bring years of their experiences into their engineering data platform.

    I dunno so much about automobiles, and other modes of transportation but a while back actually I have had a pitch for an engineering data platform targeting EVTOL and air transport. I called it HyParter standing for hyper partition! Because of getting back to academia and doing research and CFD simulations couldn’t really work on it anymore though. Also I found it difficult to explain it at some point and get into discussion with people so I stopped talking about it.

    • John Chawner says:

      Thanks for your comment, Payam. A data platform model for CAD (and/or CFD) would truly be disruptive and it’ll take a team of committed folks to demonstrate a software ecosystem where it works. A multi-organizational team would make it doubly challenging.

      • Payam says:

        I would call it open data platform for CAD or open CAD hosting platform for development of engineering systems! Of course it needs lots of works to get to the MVP stage!

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