Fluids Simulation for Aerodynamics Performance

Aerodynamic design starts from the very earliest stages of development, but it affected by both large structures and tiny details that change right through the process. Integrating simulation into design allows engineers to optimize the performance of their product and resolve potential issues without the cost of wind tunnel testing.

Aerodynamics is a crucial concern across a wide range of industries. The automotive industry were pioneers in the field, using the understanding of how air flows around vehicles to reduce drag to produce faster cars with better fuel economy. It is also a self-evident requirement in the aerospace industry, especially as high fuel costs and tightening emissions regulations mean that even the smallest reduction in drag is worthwhile. Even large fixed structures such as buildings and industrial equipment can benefit from aerodynamic design to reduce wind load and improve air flow.

Supplementing wind tunnel testing with simulation reduces costs by replacing physical prototypes with a virtual twin. It also represents a significant time saving, as tests that might takes week to prepare physically can be replicated in simulation with an overnight turnaround. Allowing designers to analyze aerodynamic performance from the very start both reduces the time and cost associated with fixing issues later, and fosters innovation by allowing users to experiment with new concepts that can improve performance and offer a competitive edge.

The SIMULIA brand of Dassault Systemes offers a portfolio of powerful fluid simulation tools that can tackle a wide range of aerodynamics scenarios and challenges including:

  • Aerodynamic efficiency and drag reduction
  • High lift systems and flight dynamics
  • Vehicle handling
  • Soiling – mud, rain and snow management
  • Panel deformation
  • Wind load

SIMULIA aerodynamics solutions use the high-performance Lattice Boltzmann technology to accurately simulate the flow of air around very large structures, including turbulence. The interaction between air and other fluids such as water and mud can be simulated for analyzing effects such as rain and soiling. Moving parts can be taken into account, as can the road surface, other vehicles and the environment.

The aerodynamics solutions can also link to other fluids subdisciplines such as aeroacoustics, to structural and motion simulation tools, and to modeling tools for an integrated modeling/simulation (MODSIM) workflow.

Aerodynamics Applications

Aerodynamic efficiency

Vehicle aerodynamic design has a critical impact on fuel efficiency, through reducing wind resistance and from cooling flow through the engine compartment. Simulation offers insight into vehicle aerodynamics and can reveal real-world issues that aren’t seen in the wind tunnel. Simulation provides cost savings and improvement in the final design.

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High lift systems and flight dynamics

Many trade-offs must be considered when designing a wing or rotor, including performance, maximum lift, weight, cost, and noise. Simulation can optimize high-lift surface design, providing results overnight that could once have taken months of wind tunnel testing.

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Vehicle handling

Forces such as drag, lift and crosswind affect the grip that the tires have on the road, response of the vehicle to steering inputs, and stability of the vehicle to changes in the road or wind conditions. Understanding these can improve vehicle safety and passenger comfort and provide the competitive edge for race cars.

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Water, snow, ice, dirt, rocks, and other particles of debris can be kicked up off the road by tires or wind, or are present due to weather conditions. The small size of these particles dictates that they will be strongly influenced by vehicle aerodynamics, and careful design can reduce the soiling and damage they cause.

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Aerodynamics Resources