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Productivity Gains the Theme of COMSOL Multiphysics 4.1

Productivity Gains the Theme of COMSOL Multiphysics 4.1

Building on the completely new architecture delivered in Version 4.0 of its multiphysics simulation tool, COMSOL Inc. released a 4.1 upgrade that focuses on productivity with an array of practical new features designed to ease the modeling and simulation process.

COMSOL 4.0, released late last year, takes a page from CAD tools with a completely revamped user interface designed to make multiphysics simulation more accessible. At the heart of the 4.0 architecture is Model Builder, a set of graphical programming tools that guide users through the process, from model creation to simulation results, letting them right-click to perform common tasks like CAD geometry imports, meshing and specification of materials properties.

In the latest 4.1 release, the tree-structured Model Builder has evolved to make the modeling process even more intuitive. Specifically, users can now copy and paste nodes within Model Builder, allowing them, with a click of a button, to duplicate selected nodes as functions, geometry selections, plot settings and visualization effects in addition to employing the duplicated nodes to create new images or prepare data for export. There is also a new Undo/Redo function for added convenience.

"Version 4.1 is all about usability," says John Dunec, COMSOL's vice president of sales. "We've taken things we saw people commonly do that were further (down) in the (Model Builder) tree and pushed them to the top of the tree so they can do things easier."

A number of new capabilities in 4.1 focus on delivering faster simulation results. For example, a new physics-controlled meshing feature, currently available in other COMSOL modules, now frees up users from having to perform the time-consuming mesh-creation process. There are also new job management tools, including an automatic save and recovery feature, which ensures that simulations can be recovered in the event of an unexpected interruption or unpredictable event. This capability is extremely reassuring to users running large-scale simulations which can last for days, even weeks, says Dunec.

COMSOL Multiphysics 4.1 joins a series of new add-on modules designed to bolster the platform's capabilities in particular simulation competency areas or for specific engineering domains. This summer, COMSOL released three new modules: a Chemical Reaction Engineering Module, aimed at scientists and chemical engineers; a Plasma Module, for the study of low-temperature plasmas; and the Batteries and Fuel Cell Module, for the set-up, simulation and study of all major electrochemical batteries and fuel cells, including lithium-ion batteries, nickel metal-hydride batteries, solid oxide fuel cells, and proton exchange membrane fuel cells.

Each of these modules combines many of the core capabilities of the COMSOL platform along with special features and functionality designed to ease multiphysics simulation tasks for that particular domain. Beyond a simple repackaging, Dunec says the add-on modules - of which there are now 11, not including the LiveLink integration modules for CAD programs - are intended to give engineers all the simulation tools they require for that particular task in one place in the language and context of the engineering disciplines they're accustomed to working in.

The new Plasma Module brings a number of new features to the COMSOL platform. The tool takes on the simulation of plasma, a true multiphysics problem involving the amalgamation of fluid mechanics, reaction engineering, physical kinetics, heat transfer, mass transfer and electromagnetics, Dunec explains. The tool offers application-specific interfaces for the most common types of plasmas along with features for adding and removing reactions, surface reactions and species to create arbitrarily complex plasma chemistries.

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