This Week in CFD

Reading & Listening

If you read nothing else in this blog post, check out these two links.

  • Mentor Graphics’ Keith Hanna waxes poetic with CFD If, a CFD-themed version of Kipling’s “If…”
  • The Talking CFD podcast delves into “what makes CAD so tricky to work with in CFD” and “whether we’re about to lose the human from the CFD meshing loop altogether” with ITI’s Mark Gammon. [Say it isn’t so.]

News From Pointwise

News & Events

  • Reuters reports that a private equity firm is in “advanced talks” to acquire MSC Software for an amount reported to be in excess of $800 million. [For the time being this report can be classified as rumor and hopefully not alternative fact.]
  • MeshTrends (aka the Symposium on Trends in Unstructured Mesh Generation) will be held at the 14th U.S. National Congress on Computational Mechanics in Montreal on 17-20 July 2017. It appears that presentation abstracts are due 28 February.
  • The Parallel CFD Conference 2017 will be held at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow on 15-17 May 2017. Abstracts are due 09 February.



An example of the new logarithmic scaling in FieldView 16.1. CFD solution by AcuSolve. Image from Intelligent Light. See link below.

  • Intelligent Light launched FieldView 16.1 for CFD postprocessing with new capabilities for video export, Python scripting, log scaling of color maps, and more.
  • EnSuite 2017 was released for CAD data viewing and translating.
  • Dr. Dongyue Li introduced me to, a relatively new Chinese-language website that “distributes OpenFOAM solver documents to explain the interesting CFD theory in plain words.”

Computers & Computing

  • For those of you interested in exploring GPU acceleration of your code, Nvidia provides the An Even Easier Introduction to CUDA.
  • Recent progress on cloud computing has dispelled myths of security, licensing, cost, and complexity according to UberCloud’s Wolfgang Gentzsch.
  • D-Wave, makers of quantum computers, released their quantum software tool as open source.

Applications & Jobs

  • How useful is CFD for data centers? You’ve seen here before links to many articles on data center applications. This article from attempts to describe CFD’s utility for this application. [The article must have been somewhat controversial due to its post-publication edits that label it as an opinion piece and add a relatively long errata. Take a look and let me know what you think.]
  • How useful is CFD for ambulances? More specifically, how it can be used to minimize the risk of infection for those riding in the back.
  • TotalSim has job openings for a Software Developer and a CFD Support Coordinator.
  • Take 6 minutes to watch Meshing Basics from Autodesk Simulation CFD.

Facets & Grids

Facets show up in the strangest places, like this video ad for the World Wildlife Fund.


Screen capture from a video advertisement for the World Wildlife Fund. See link above.

And you didn’t think I’d let you go without an abstract painting, did you? Currently showing at The Modern in Fort Worth is an exhibiting of the grid paintings of Stanley Whitney. I had my first, brief opportunity to see them earlier this week and I’m looking forward to my second viewing on 01 February.


Stanley Whitney, SunRa, 2016. Image from The Modern. See link above.

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This Week in CFD


  • A Cray SVP makes supercomputing predictions for 2017. Regarding the cloud, 2017 will be “partly cloudy.”
  • [This might be another supercomputing prediction but…] Inside HPC reports that China will develop an exascale computer by the end of 2017.
  • [And while we’re making predictions for the coming year…] Robert Cringely says the cloud will be huge in 2017 with “Amazon, Google, and Microsoft having all staked their corporate futures on their cloud services.”

From Pointwise

  • We’d like to learn what software you think does 3-D pan, zoom, and rotate the best. Please take our 1-question survey.
  • Pointwise V18.0 R2 was released last month and includes a new “script server” capability that, among other things, gives you the ability to make Glyph calls from Python, Perl, or potentially every other scripting language.



Screen capture of a must-see video of simulation results from Jacobs Analytics of a barbecue smoker. This simulation was a winner in the Startup category of the ANSYS Hall of Fame Competition. Image from ANSYS. See link below.

  • ANSYS’ annual Hall of Fame Competition always recognizes some great applications of simulation technology and the 2017 results are no different. Be certain to check them all out but the one that touched my heart was the simulation of a barbecue smoker [because food]. See image above.
  • CFD simulation of a supersonic UAV was performed using ANSYS Fluent, Zona’s Zeus, and Tecplot.
  • Symscape finishes their look-back at CFD in 2016.


  • SU2 Version 5.0.0 “Raven” is the latest release of this open source CFD solver. This release includes improved freeform deformation and a new transition model, among other additions.
  • Tech Soft 3D released HOOPS Exchange 2017 for CAD file interoperability.
  • ANSYS 18 is coming soon, starting with a webinar on “pervasive simulation.”



Volvo is using STAR-CCM+ as part of their thermodynamic simulations. Image from Siemens PLM. Read full article here.

  • writes about COMSOL Days, free CAE training sessions to be held in 19 cities furthering the company’s goal of bringing simulation to the masses.
  • If you missed AIAA SciTech here in DFW last week, AIAA has posted a Flickr album with 1,805 photos from the event. [Play the game Let’s Find a Pointwise Person.]
  • An update to the book Computational Fluid Dynamics: Principles and Applications by Blazek has been posted and includes errata and source code.
  • The 12th OpenFOAM Workshop will be held 24-27 July 2017 at the University of Exeter.
  • The SIAM Conference on Computational Science and Engineering will be held 27 Feb – 03 Mar in Atlanta.

Mesh Patterns

Jessica Snow’s painting 16 Triangles (see below) not only fits my predeliction for mesh-like artworks but also reminds me of other works that explore the motif of simple shapes repeated in a pattern with different colors.


Jessica Snow, 16 Triangles, 2013. Image from See link above.

The first comparison that comes to mind is Gerhard Richter’s series of color chart paintings, exemplified by 180 Colors (see below).


Gerhard Richter, 180 Colors, 1971. Image from ArtNet. See link above.

And, of course, one can’t forget Damien Hirst’s famous spot paintings.


Damien Hirst, Abalone Acetate Powder, 1991. Image from See link above.

IMO, what each of those paintings offers is eye motion and rhythm induced by the interaction of each colored shape with its neighbors and the activation of the white space between those shapes. For more on this, see the outstanding reference Interaction of Color by artist Josef Albers. [Not an art book; a reference for anyone who produces graphics. Highly recommend.]

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The Five Best Small Features in Pointwise Version 18

From the 2016 Q4 issue of The Connector:

badge-five-125x125When you think of Pointwise Version 18, the first things that come to mind are the big, powerful features like unstructured quadrilateral surface meshing, unstructured hexahedral layer extrusion in the anisotropic tetrahedral extrusion (T-Rex) technique, and tetrahedral mesh clustering sources. But there are many small and powerful new features in this latest release that you will probably find yourself using frequently because they make mesh generation just that much easier. (more)

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Who Does Pan, Zoom, and Rotate The Best?

This can’t get much simpler.

Which software product has the most intuitive 3-D pan, zoom, and rotate tools, in your opinion?

Help us by taking this one-question survey here.



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This Week in CFD

*** Lucky Friday the 13th Edition ***


  • Tecplot released Tecplot 360 2017 for CFD visualization including a Python API. You can read more about PyTecplot on the company’s blog.
  • OpenVSP 3.10.0, the parametric aircraft geometry tool, was released.

Screen shot of a video introduction to Tecplot 360 2017. See link above.

Looking Back

  • Did you know the FYFD blog was in the New York Times last year? Learn more and see the top posts of 2016 [and maybe consider helping FYFD by becoming a patron].
  • Speaking of 2016 wrap-ups, read on CFD and others… how a military coup and CFD interacted.
  •’s top articles of 2016 includes an overview of simulation technology.
  • Symscape shares 2016’s lessons in CFD.
  • If you, like me, have gotten behind on the Talking CFD podcast, now is the time to get caught up. You’ll hear from Sandip Jadhav (CCTech), Robin Bornoff (Mentor Graphics), Mark Seymour (Future Facilities), Darrin Stephens & Chris Sideroff (Caelus), Franjo Juretic (Creative Fields), Nicolas Tonello (Renuda), and Kelly Senecal (Convergent Science).

A neural network learns how to do fluid simulations. video

Events & More

Twisty Passages

The creators of the text-based game Adventure [that reference should give you a clue to my advanced age] probably didn’t have structured grids mind when they wrote the line “you are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike” but when you’ve generated as many structured grids as I have your dreams often look like the work of Peter Kogler.

As first seen by me on Colossal, Kogler’s installations would be perfect for the hallways of any CFD or mesh generation company’s headquarters.


Peter Kogler, DIRIMART Gallery, Instanbul, 2011. Image from Colossal. See link above.

Bonus: “The hegemony of English-language science…

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I’m Luiz Fernando Silva and This Is How I Mesh

Luiz Fernando Silva, Professor at Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

Luiz Fernando Silva, Professor at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

I was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and I am the eldest of three boys. We lived in the north region of the city, called Tijuca, which is very close to America’s largest urban forest, Tijuca’s Forest. When I was six years old, I wanted to be a soccer player like most of the boys in Brazil. However, my legs didn’t agree with me when during the games I would get hit by the ball and stumble while running. After this, I accepted that being a soccer player would not be my specialty. In fact, I was terrible…so back to the books! In all, it was not hard to figure out that I always liked technical and science subjects.

I started my bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ). During the second year of the course, I joined a research laboratory as a scientific intern. The term “scientific intern” is a Brazilian government program designed to encourage young students to learn more about science. So I joined the Thermo-fluid-dynamics laboratory and learned the basics of scientific programming and numerical methods applied to hyperbolic equations. I realized that I wanted to learn more about transport phenomena and numerical methods. Therefore, as soon as I finished the bachelor course, I registered for a post-graduation course in the same laboratory.

The topic of my Ph.D. thesis was the implementation of polydisperse multiphase flows using moments method because at that time commercial CFD codes did not have this modeling approach implemented. At first, the task involved writing an in-house code from scratch, but I soon realized the effort of meshing and numerical methods would be considerable. Instead, I checked the release of a new open-source CFD code named OpenFOAM and as I studied the code I realized I could focus on the implementation of the multiphase modeling. After all, the meshing, numerics and post-processing were already included on the software. This is the story of how I started using OpenFOAM.

I assumed a professor position at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro one year after my Ph.D. defense. From that time, I assumed several disciplines, mostly related to Transport Phenomena and Numerical Methods, and had many undergraduate students. I’ve been working with multiphase flow and general CFD development and plan to focus on compressible flows and optimization moving forward.

My former Ph.D. supervisor and I noted that an open-source approach to the CFD market would be important and prominent in Brazil, especially high quality services which include CFD simulations and development using OpenFOAM. Considering this, and together with former students, we founded Wikki Brasil in 2013 with partnerships with Wikki and Pointwise. Wikki Brasil was founded within the UFRJ Company Incubator program which is an incentive for starting companies in Rio de Janeiro. It is an important support helping Wikki Brasil face the Brazilian economic and political crisis nowadays.

As a professor at a federal university, my role at Wikki Brasil is only as a non-administrative associate. This means I don’t actually work on company projects, but I can help instruct Wikki Brasil associates as an external consultant. Considering this, I am very proud to be part of Wikki Brasil.

  • Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • Current position: Professor at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro
  • Current computer: MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch, Late 2013) 2.4 GHz Intel Core i5 and 8 GB 1600 MHz DDR3 (El Capitan) and a desktop with Gigabyte X99, Intel Core i7 5820K (3.30 GHz), 32 GB RAM DDR4 2400 MHz, Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 4 GB GDDR5, 120 GB SSD and 2 TB HD (CentOS 7).
  • One word that best describes how you work: Dedicated

What software or tools do you use every day?

I use a MacBook Pro (El Capitan) on a daily basis as my productive computer. I use it most of the time for general tasks like accessing the internet and e-mail, as well as reviewing and writing material. The applications I use most often are:

  • Macports to install and maintain Linux command-line applications and libraries.
  • Safari and Google Chrome for internet and Apple Mail and Gmail (web interface) for my e-mails.
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader (activating the Comment option) or Skim for reviewing papers and documents.
  • LaTeX (MacTex package) and TeXnicle IDE for writing technical documents and presentations.
  • Apple Calendar to keep my appointments organized, Things to organize my to-do list, Evernote to save and organize all my notes and bookmarks. I use Mendeley Desktop to keep articles and reference material organized.
  • I use several cloud services for data synchronization like Dropbox, iCloud and Owncloud.
  • I use Skype and WhatsApp (on my iPhone) to communicate with my friends and colleagues.
  • I also use Twitter and Facebook to stay up to date with CFD news and related material.
  • And lastly, Spotify is always on with my Rock Classics playlist.

I have installed Pointwise, OpenFOAM, foam-extend and ParaView on both my MacBook Pro and Linux desktop. The MacBook is my first choice for small projects. For serious simulation and code development, I connect remotely to my Linux desktop from the MacBook using ssh. For code development, I use vim (Linux and MacOS) and TextMate (MacOS) with gcc and clang compilers.

What does your workspace look like?


I work at the School of Chemistry at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. It is located on the E Block of the Technologic Center of the university. Professors’ offices on E Block are somewhat distant from the research laboratories. Considering this, I recently left my old office and moved to a small office inside the CFD Laboratory. My motivation was mainly to be closer to students and, despite the smaller size, I really enjoy working at the new office.

The CFD Laboratory (LabCFD) is administered by four professors, including me. We have several Ph.D., master’s and under-graduated students dealing with several topics related to CFD and transport phenomena. The laboratory also has experimental activities that provide data to validate simulations. There are several pieces of equipment there, but I would say that the most important of all is broken at the moment – the coffee machine. Just kidding…

My office is small but I find it very cozy. I have scattered some gifts from places I have traveled all over the place. My desk is minimalistic as I keep only essential office and computer material within reach. I use a 29” widescreen monitor connected to both my MacBook Pro and Linux computer. I can use the wide area of the monitor to organize the working application windows side by side and let the MacBook screen be used for e-mail, calendar and to-do list programs. I also chose this configuration instead of multiple monitors mostly to maintain a simple and clean desk.

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

Transport phenomena alone is not an easy subject and requires a lot of dedication to understand the theory and how to use it for practical cases. The same applies to numerical methods applied to fluid flow, coupled equations, and meshing procedures. Add scientific computing (parallel processing, data communication, scientific visualization, etc.) to the formula and you might have the basis for CFD theory. CFD is a multidisciplinary area and it is not easy to keep yourself up to date on all subfields. There is a need for long term dedication and some effort studying the theory.

It may seem a bit tendentious for a professor, but I am quite sure education will be a challenge. From what I see, many engineers use simulation tools as “automagical” solutions to their problems. After all, it is easy to enter some parameters and promptly get a solution. When starting to use CFD, it is easy to get lured by all colors and pretty pictures. I recognize that the accessibility of a user interface is important, but people are heavily relying on it to solve complex problems. Thus, the challenge of education is to provide a balance of software and CFD knowledge.

In general, the engineering bachelor degree may not be enough to train a CFD specialist. Usually, under-graduate students have their first contact with CFD using commercial software and simple cases. Further training and personal effort is also necessary. What worries me is that the fast CFD popularization is providing button pushers without motivation to understand what is beneath and criticize the solution.

As I was writing this post and I found that Darrin Stephens has a similar opinion.

What are you currently working on?

As a professor, I am supervising some Ph.D. and master’s students working on several subjects related to CFD modeling and development. The majority of themes are related to polydisperse multiphase flows. To pick one example, one of my Ph.D. students is finishing his research project on hydrate formation modeling using a multivariate population balance approach coupled with a multiphase flow code in OpenFOAM.

I have a meshing related task scheduled for the next few weeks where I will generate a grid for a cyclonic valve which has a very complex geometry. At the moment, I am cleaning the geometry using some solid modeling hints and I am already expecting to put some effort on the meshing procedure. In other words, fun time!

What would you say is your meshing specialty?

I don’t think I have a meshing specialty, but rather I am meshing enthusiastic. Let me explain.

I began playing with meshes a long time ago with ANSYS ICEM CFD and found it a very difficult task. At that time, there were no good manual tools for blocking strategies and vertices associations, and Octree was “automagical” for a beginner. After that, I began playing with OpenFOAM and meshing tools available within, i.e., blockMesh. That was the time when I was pretty sure meshing was not my thing.

It took me a long time before I dealt with serious meshing again. I started using Pointwise for very simple meshes and it was surprisingly easy to use. Once you understand the relation of connectors and domains and how to control every aspect of these entities (using Dimension, Distribute and Solve panels, for instance), you gain the confidence to mesh more complex geometries. This is just one step forward to deal with more complex meshing tools like extrusion, T-Rex and Overset techniques.

Despite having a preference for structured meshes, I also work with unstructured meshes for general CFD cases. At the moment I’ve been playing with Pointwise V18 and unstructured meshes (Advancing Front Ortho algorithm with triangles and quads) coupled with T-Rex. In the end, I can’t say I have a mesh specialty as I am still learning several aspects of meshing. To be honest, I have found that meshing is quite fun.

Any tips for our users?

I had the opportunity to attend a Pointwise standard training course at the company’s headquarters in Fort Worth. The training course was very important to begin understanding the Pointwise methodology for mesh generation and start my own projects. At the same time, I was able to meet several Pointwise employees: Travis Carrigan, John Dreese and Claudio Pita from the technical team, and Heather McCoy and Rick Matus from the sales team. So, my first tip is to keep in touch with Pointwise and the team of distributors. They can (and will) help you to use Pointwise and improve your knowledge on meshing strategies with the software.

In addition, if you can’t attend the training, there are several tutorials and webinars available on Pointwise’s channel on YouTube. The beginners may find videos explaining different aspects of the software, from basic meshing to examination of mesh quality. Even if you are an expert user, you can find more advanced material presented in the webinars and webcasts. So, this is a tip for Pointwise users of different levels of expertise. Go get some popcorn and watch the videos.

For a last tip, several details (even small ones) that can improve your mesh are described in the manual. Thus, consider it for serious power when meshing.

If you are from Brazil and want to know about Pointwise, get in contact with Wikki Brasil.

What project are you most proud of and why?

None of my work projects come to my mind when I think of an answer to this question. Instead, I think of all the students I have supervised and their personal and professional evolution. From the first steps using C++ and numerical methods, to fully coding a complex OpenFOAM solver, until realizing they are actually enjoying all of it, their evolution is notable. In the end, it is not hard to see that they are now much more proficient in specific topics than I am (or was). This is what I am proud of most of all.

What CFD solver and post-processor do you use most often?

I use OpenFOAM and foam-extend for my research projects and to prepare teaching material. Not often, I also use ANSYS Fluent or CFX due to some student or client restriction. For post-processing I use ParaView and gnuplot.

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

No, not really. At this time I am studying compressible flow theory in order to apply it for supersonic equipment for gas separation. As a chemical engineer, supersonic flows are not usual and so the theory is not approached during bachelor’s studies. So I am getting back to basic steps and increasing the complexity as study advances. The references I am using are:

  • Fox, R. W., McDonald, A. T. and Pritchard, P. J., Introduction to Fluid Mechanics, John Wiley & Sons, 6th ed., 2004. (Chapters 11 and 12)
  • Oosthuizen, P. H. and Carscallen, W. E., Introduction to Compressible Fluid Flow, CRC Press, 2nd ed., 2014.

If you have any tips about this subject, would you please leave a comment? Thank you in advance!

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

I am still depending on the release of funds from projects and research agencies in order to plan these activities. I would like to attend the OpenFOAM Workshop to keep up to date with recent news and developments. In addition, I would like to attend the next Pointwise User Group Meeting.

Also, I have gathered a team to organize the Brazilian OpenFOAM User Group Meeting in 2017 which will take place in Rio de Janeiro. I am on the organizing committee of Brazilian Congress of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CBCFD) and we will start to organize the congress this year, despite happening in 2018. If you want to know how the 2016 edition was, click here.

What do you do outside the world of CFD?

Besides the CFD world, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends. My mother lives close so I visit her very often. I also enjoy taking a long walk with my dog, Sherlock, and my wife. Rio de Janeiro is a wonderful city and the weather is perfect for outside activities.

I have been a video game fan since I was a boy. Considering this, I have evolved from an Atari system to PS3. Even so, I am so busy at the moment that there is a long period of time when I don’t play anything. I consider an exception only when my goddaughter visits me. She enjoys playing PS3 games and wants (requires) me to play with her. During some pauses, I usually play indie games on iOS.

I have a collection of TV series and movies to watch on Netflix. I usually like to watch all seasons/episodes of each TV show at a time, but recently I have been breaking this rule. I am following Neil deGrasse Tyson in Cosmos and watching the last season of Black Mirror. In addition, I am also watching the Sherlock TV series. And before you ask, no, I am not following the Game of Thrones series. Instead, I am reading the fourth book of the collection.

Speaking of which, I also have a book collection. Most are historical romances, such as The Pillars of the Earth and Saxon Chronicles, but recently I have been interested in science history and scientific facts about unsolved mysteries.

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

Uncle Ben, from the Spider-man comic books, once said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” He didn’t know at the time, but he was talking about CFD.

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

Rio de Janeiro is a big city, with several options for restaurants. So, this is a difficult question. Considering that I really like seafood, I know a restaurant that serves a varied menu including many dishes of fish, shrimp, crab, lobster and more. Really, the menu is so diverse that you may even find a sushi bar there (yep, Japanese food is included). The restaurant is called “Casa da Ostra na Brasa” which means Grilled Oyster House. Still, be aware that it is not the cheapest restaurant (approximately 22.00 U.S. dollars), but did I mention it is all-you-can-eat?

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Rotorcraft Hub Wake Analysis Using Overset Meshes

From the 2016 Q4 issue of The Connector:

figure2b_gridResearchers at Pennsylvania State University’s Applied Research Laboratory share an overview of their ongoing work involving overset grid CFD simulations of an incompressible rotorcraft hub they performed using the overset meshing tools available in Pointwise. Preliminary CFD results show good agreement with empirical rotor hub wake measurements. Pointwise has become an integral part of these researchers’ toolset as they continue their investigations into important flow phenomena for their sponsors in the rotorcraft industry. (more)

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