This Week in CFD


Today’s edition of the CFD news will take a “Black Friday,” ruthless, unorganized, get in and get out approach to reporting. There’s an article on advocating for more, not fewer, virtual conferences. I’d like to read your opinions on this in the comments. Another longish report for you to read is AIAA’s State of the Industry Report. Any surprises for you in that report should be included in the comments. And it’d be nice of our NASA readers commented on the agency’s open science initiative. If you’re concerned that those three things aren’t CFD, don’t worry; there are plenty of software releases and applications to keep you busy on this (holiday for some) Friday. Shown here is a CFD simulation you’ve probably already seen if you’ve been online at all during the last month: ducklings in formation swimming.

I may have posted this recently, but it’s such a good resource it’s worth repeating. Check out FLOW-3D’s CFD-101 written by company founder Dr. Tony Hirt.

Datakit recently released version 2021.4 of their CAD reading SDK with updated file format support.

How to turn an old railway tunnel into a wind tunnel test center for cars.

For turbulence lovers, here’s a proof of Batchelor’s Law for turbulent mixing.

ICYMI, Cadence Pointwise Meshing Version 18.5 was released and the marquee feature is an extension of the software’s Flashpoint suite of automation tools to include Automatic Volume Meshing (AVM). AVM is design to generate viscous-resolving meshes like the one shown here. Earlier this week a series of videos was launched that demonstrate how to apply AVM.

In a cool case of digital engineering, Rolls-Royce’s proposal to re-engine the B-52 (which they won) included complete digital modeling of their F130 engine integrated onto the aircraft.

You can use CFD to model how to generate electricity from wind flowing through high-density, compact urban environments.

Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer to conference in-person [in meat space as the kids say]. The authors of this article from Nature disagree. Changing Scientific Meetings for the Better advocates organizing “national and international meetings in fully or mostly virtual formats.” [My preference is based on a belief that conferences are more about people and less about papers.]

When I think of CFD within the larger spectrum of Cadence’s computational software, the intersection of those Venn diagram is thermal. Cadence’s Celsius thermal solver handles all sorts of heating issues related to chips, printed circuit boards, and their packaging including a CFD capability for convective heating. Read more and then watch video showing Celsius in action.

The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) recently published their State of the Industry Report for 2021, covering the “health and future outlook of the aerospace industry.” The full report is available to all members and an Executive Summary is available for everyone (registration required). It’s worth reading. Amid all the cautious optimism about the industry and promising industry sectors (AI, advanced manufacturing, autonomous flight), the one aspect that stood out for me is the emphasis on diversity as it pertains to workforce development.

Speaking of the future A&D workforce, Aviation Week published the 2021 class of 20 Twenties, undergraduate and masters students who are poised to change the world.

The Toronto Geometry Colloquium is “a live weekly hour-long webseries showcasing geometry processing research.” [For those of you familiar with Mr. Creosote, adding anything else to my bloated information diet would be like that last wafer-thin mint.]

Xometry (“a leading AI-enabled marketplace for on-demand manufacturing”) is giving away “The Xometry Pocket Engineer Card is packed with features in laser-cut stainless steel the size of your credit card. It contains 26 unit conversions, 7 equations and 10 physical constants to save you time looking up references. It also doubles as ruler, arc drawing and angle measurement tool and has a photogrammetric ruler to calibrate length and tilt in images when used as a scale in field or lab work. It also offers pipe inner diameter measurement from 0.25″-1.25″ and machinist scale with 10-mil resolution.” Registration required.

I got mine, although the thought of me building any tangible object by hand is laughable.
Not that you need any more photos of my thumb, but I got these awesome stickers from my friends at nTopology. I have a few spares in case anyone wants one.
What do we say? I’m a sucker for a grid pic. This one is from our friends at GridPro from an article about vortex generators on aircraft. Image from

Anyone using Mathcha, an online math editor?

It’s never too early to block the dates on your calendar. The 17th U.S. National Congress on Computational Mechanics (USNCCM) will be held in Albuquerque on 23-27 July 2023.

Google has been developing something called JAX and JAX-CFD for the purposes of bringing together HPC and AI for computational simulation.

CFD, DNS, and combustion modeling have evolved quite a bit over the course of Jacqueline Chen’s career. This article provides a really good description of her history and contributions to the technologies involved.

NASA has launched an open-source science initiative with the goal of building a community over the next decade. In particular, from 2022-2027 there will be an overt focus on TOPS, Transform to Open Science, including a GitHub community. And really in particular, 2023 is the Year of Open Science [YOOS not to be confused with YEET]. It is unclear [to me] how this initiative will impact NASA’s broad portfolio of CFD codes.

ICYMI, Supercomputers Have Superpowers is a coloring book (for kids).

Not for kids is Wave-Riding and Wave-Passing by Ducklings in Formation Swimming in which CFD used to reach the conclusion that “the total wave drag of the group remains constant, regardless of the group size.” See image at the top of this post. [And now Make Way for Ducklings makes sense, despite having read it to my boys hundreds of times.]

The FEA for All blog picks apart common verbiage typically found in communications from CAE software companies in All The Truth about CAE and FEA Simulation Software and I can’t disagree and will admit to a degree of guilt.

  • “Easy to use” – And IMO its cousin, “intuitive.” Being an acolyte of Alan Cooper’s About Face approach to UI design, the goal is to be idiomatic – learnable.
  • “Accurate” – As Edward Tufte would ask, “Accurate relative to what?” I could do real engineering with simulation software that I knew was always 10% high on its results. Accurate relative to the competition? Accurate relevant to older version of the same software? How accurate? And for what types of computations? (Range of applicability)
  • “Fast” – Again, relative to what? Usually it’s relative to previous versions of the same software. And never forget, you can only have two of these three: good, fast, cheap.
  • “Affordable” – Too much focus on price here. Instead focus on value.

I hope to soon have time to read Watertight Tensor-Product Spline Reconstruction by my friend Ben Urick at nVariate.

In the latest video episode of Cadence CFD’s automotive series, the topic is CAD preparation.
What do we say? I love me a good grid pic. Here’s a boiler feed pump from a simulation study to reduce cavitation.

Speaking of STAR-CCM+, learn what’s new in their 2021.3 release.

Learn about everything that’s new in Tecplot 360 2021 R2.

If you prefer to read about what’s in the latest Tecplot release, here’s their announcement from which this image was obtained. Image from

Speaking of Tecplot, here’s how to use it along with Converge CFD to compute flame fronts and speeds.

Asthma inhalers can be improved through the use of CFD.

Operators of the Cessna Caravan 208B might want to look at these drag-reduction mods, designed of course with the aid of CFD.

Your reminder that the World Championship Air Race is set to resume in 2022 and not only revive the Red Bull Air Race but improve upon it.

This article from Aviation Week is a primer in wing design. Worth reading.

For lovers of kinetic sculpture, energy capture from the wind need not be ugly as evidenced by Joe Doucet’s Wind Turbine Wall.

NASA is investing in development of highly efficient engines for single-aisle aircraft and partnering with both GE and Pratt to do so.

Our friends at SimScale raised another €25 million for continued development and expanded use of their SaaS platform.

The Canadian Society for Mechanical Engineering International Congress (CSME 2022) will be held at the University of Alberta on 5-8 June.

As mentioned here by me ad nauseum, the grid in painting can provide a normalizing structure for composing a painting. On the other hand, and depending on the intended expression, the grid can also be distorted. This balance between stable and distorted structure seems to be a theme of Stephen Westfall’s hard-edge abstractions, likely because of the artist’s interest in architecture and paintings as space. Originally seen in Geometry in a State of Collapse on Hyperallergic, you can read more at the artist’s own website.

Stephen Westfall, Samba da Lua, 2021. Image from See link above.
Bonus: The Hammock Puzzle asks for the least number of cords to be cut to divide this hammock into two pieces. Click through for the answer. Image from
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2 Responses to This Week in CFD

  1. Mark Jones Jr. says:

    You hit the nail on the head. Conferences are about people not presentations. And relationships are worth the “risk”.

    • John Chawner says:

      Thanks, Mark. I’m fairly certain that organizations like AIAA are going to have online content at all their conferences going forward. (Or at least I believe they’ll try it and test what kind of response they get.) Makes me wonder whether there’s an opportunity here to mashup in-person conferences, online presentations, and journals.

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