Dearborn, MI--As design engineers' skills improve with using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software packages, use of the codes is becoming more widespread and gaining acceptance in many industries. Leading the way are automobile manufacturers, who use such programs to simulate gas and liquid flows in various systems, such as climate control, air intake, engine-cooling and radiator heat transfer, exhaust manifolds, as well as external and under-hood aerodynamics.
Time to market is critical in keeping a company's vehicles up to date in technology and down to earth in cost. Software packages drive down this time and cut design and prototyping expenses. Chris Greiner, a technical specialist at Ford's Advanced Vehicle Technology operation, says modern codes are critical. "We have a suite of solver tools, this way the company has the right one for a given application," he adds. "We model many components as part of the effort to get away from physical prototyping and reduce the design cycle."
As part of this effort, Ford recently reached a license agreement to expand its use of CFD software from Fluent (Lebanon, NH). The FLUENT/UNS package is a general-purpose solver for many classes of problems, so it can be used for a variety of analyses. The software will be used by Ford and its divisions in the U.S. and Europe, such as Visteon, a manufacturer of radiators, heat exchangers, and flow ducting, and luxury-car maker Jaguar.
According to Fluent president and CEO, Bharatan Patel, the automotive industry represents about 12% of Fluent's worldwide business and is still a significant growth market. The company recently opened a new Detroit-area office staffed with automotive CFD engineers to provide technical support, training, and consulting to the industry, in addition to sales.