Posts Tagged ‘CFD’

11 June, 2015

This past week in England we got dangerously close to experiencing summer. The sun was out, the skies were blue and there were hardly any clouds. Despite the wind being a wee bit chilly, men started wearing shorts and women dusted off their colorful sun dresses. Those of us driving convertible cars drove with the tops down with abandon.  And more importantly the radiators at work were finally turned off.

Airflow simulation in an office. Image courtesy of Mentor Graphics. All rights reserved.

Airflow simulation in an office. Image courtesy of Mentor Graphics. All rights reserved.

And of course when the weather starts to turn we start facing the next big challenge – how to remain cool inside. The cooling challenges in our offices have been sufficiently documented by yours truly already here and here. Thankfully our office is scheduled to undergo a refurbishment and will get an AC system soon (I guess then we’ll start complaining that it’s too cold inside but then again that’s human nature for you).

With the arrival of summer I was reminded that my house gets uncomfortably hot. My 200+ year old brick cottage wasn’t built for energy efficiency.  The ground floor remains cool (regardless of whether it’s summer or winter) but the upstairs gets hot in the summer.  The bricks bake in the sun all day and release the heat at night. Last week I found myself huddled in the sitting room under a blanket after dinner but the bedroom which is directly above it was a whole other story. When I went upstairs to go to bed I couldn’t open windows to create a draft fast enough. In fact by the time I had opened 3 windows in a 10 foot radius I had started to sweat.

Last year I flirted with the idea of buying a window-mounted AC system but I couldn’t find anything that didn’t cost an arm and a leg – window-mounted systems are dime a dozen in the States… in England not so much. As a result, I had a few restless nights trying to get cool enough to sleep by using my trusty old fan. When the temperature got unbearable I even dragged my stuff downstairs and slept on the sofa. So when this little video crossed my social network feed I had to take a look. The basic premise of the video is that with $8 you can create a homemade AC system. The idea is simple enough… one Styrofoam cooler, two vents, one fan, a lot of ice and presto. Nice cold air. It’s not elegant nor will it win any design contests but even the DIY challenged folks like me can do it. I’m sure a few of you smart souls can even further improve the design but I’m seriously tempted to give this a try.

Yes … sometimes a solution doesn’t need to be an all dancing, all singing one. Sometimes it’s the simplest design that will do the job. Something to keep in mind the next time you’re dealing with a particularly difficult design problem. And if you’re looking for inspiration on how to solve some of those hairy flow or cooling problems, do take a look at our library of videos.
Until next time,

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20 May, 2015

The other day I saw a great sign in a novelty shop. It featured the tale of a glass of water –

Image courtesy of Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Image courtesy of Microsoft. All rights reserved.

The optimist says the glass is half full.
The pessimist says the glass is half empty.
The engineer says the glass is twice the size it needs to be.

The sign made me laugh out loud as whoever made it clearly knew engineers.

Perhaps this pragmatism comes from your no nonsense nature. When looking at a problem, you look at finding the optimal solution. And more often than not the perfectionist in you wants to work on it until it is perfect. To make something perfect means you need time. Lots of time to tinker…. a bit here, a nudge there.  If we had all the time in the world then tinkering is just fine. But in real life we have deadlines and market pressures which require us all to get on with it. So sometimes good enough is just that … it’s good enough.

And one of those times is during the early stages of the design process when you don’t need to have 100% accuracy in your simulation results… you need something that is good enough. We all know that design is iterative in nature. The faster you can iterate to a final design the better – especially when you have a boss breathing down your neck. So speed and time are of the essence.  What’s a pragmatic person to do? Find a trend in the right direction, explore and tweak the model further and when you’re happy with your design send it off for final verification. Job done!

That’s why our family of CFD simulation tools is designed to be inserted easily and effortlessly into your design process. You can pick up FloEFD, FloTHERM, FloTHERM XT or Flowmaster as soon as you have a basic concept. And because it’s easy to set up problems for analysis and fast to solve them you can quickly see trends emerging and get on with the business of developing a final design fit for purpose.  Don’t get me wrong. Just because you can use these solutions early it doesn’t mean that you can’t use them throughout the process and into final verification. Because you most certainly can and you don’t have to take my word for it – just take a look at our extensive range of customer success stories.  What I’m trying to say is that sometimes you can achieve more in the long run by using the “good enough” principle.
Until next time,

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20 February, 2015

I don’t know about you but I used to break into a sweat when I’d meet someone new because invariably they’d ask the question.

What do you do?

Since I love what I do, I’d always go into a speech about computational fluid dynamics (CFD) until a chance occurrence at a party made me change my behavior a few years ago. At his birthday party, an English friend of mine introduced me to one of his friends who happened to be an American. After the initial pleasantries (you’re from California? I’m from Ohio!), she told me that she had just finished a stint as a project manager at Microsoft and asked me what I did for a living. When I told her that I was also in software and explained what I did she grabbed her husband who had caught some of our conversation and mockingly said “listen to this. C F something or another. I’m pretty sure she’s making this stuff up”. Upon seeing the shock on my face, her husband apologized profusely and ushered her away. After that night I stopped automatically telling people what I did. Whenever somebody would ask I’d say marketing for an engineering software company and leave it at that. When some people hear that magical combination of engineering and software they are happy to move on to a different subject. But sometimes they ask for more. Like last Friday.

Last November while on a business trip I got sick. Nine weeks, 7 doctors, one CAT scan and 4 ultrasounds later, I found myself checked into a hospital being prepped for surgery last Friday. The surgeon stopped by my room to discuss the procedure. When he was done answering my questions, he asked what I do for a living. So I gave him my stock answer, stopped and smiled. The surgeon, a rather kind-looking older gentleman, looked over his glasses (the way fathers do) and said “why do people always respond as if they’re talking to the secret services? What do you do and who do you work for?” He seemed genuinely interested so I let loose and since I like using examples that people can relate to I spoke about how our technology can help minimize infections in operating and hospital rooms. That piqued his interest so I pointed to his mobile and started talking about how manufacturers use our ears as glorified heatsinks. Twenty minutes later as he was leaving the room he had an amused look on his face – I had either fascinated him and he couldn’t wait to tell his financial adviser to add some Mentor stock to his portfolio or he thought I was a raving lunatic making it all up.

Funny enough I get that now. No, not the raving lunatic bit (ok, that too). It’s ok. I don’t mind anymore because despite this technology being around all these years most people whom I meet outside of work have never heard about CFD. But the cars they drive, the planes they ride, the mobiles they use … they’ve all been touched by CFD in one way, shape, form or manner. So I don’t mind describing what it’s all about. More often than not I leave people surprised that a lot of thought has gone into designing whatever product they’re using. And maybe, just maybe, they look up CFD and learn a bit more about the wonderful world of simulation.

CFD. The unknown engineering hero. My one woman crusade to educate the masses continues one person at a time.

Until next time,
PS. In case you’re wondering the procedure went without a hitch. I can hardly wait to get the clearance to start hiking again in a couple of weeks time :-)


18 December, 2014

Santa would not be very pleased with me this year. I’ve been naughty. Yes, through an unfortunate mix of being on the road and getting ill during the past 3 weeks, I haven’t done any Christmas shopping. Nor have I sent out any cards. I keep telling my loved ones that my cards will get there … rather late for this year but being the considerate soul that I am I won’t refer to the year in my note so they could always consider them as rather early for next year. Win-win for both of us, don’t you think?

While I was putting together the list of presents for my loved ones last night my mind started to wander. I started to think about the cool stuff that I’d seen this year. Then it occurred to me that they were all in one shape or another related to electronics.  A one track mind don’t you think? According to the BBC, the average person in the UK is using 10% less electricity than five years ago despite the increase in the number of large TVs, PCs/tablets and smartphones. So thanks to the efforts of lovely people like you who design more energy efficient electronics with the help of CAE and CFD I don’t feel too guilty about wanting even more electronic gadgets in the house. Anyway, since you are fellow electronics enthusiasts (and who may still be looking for ideas as to what to buy for your loved ones or yourself) I thought I should share my list with you. Ok… this is a thinly veiled list of things that I’d love under my Christmas tree but we’ll see what Santa will bring for me… it wouldn’t surprise me at all if I get a lump of coal in my stocking this year instead 😉

Here we go…

Samsung Galaxy Note 4: I remember my first mobile phone. The handset was the same size as a regular phone but it required you to carry an external battery pack the size of a medium sized handbag. Oof! Then we went through this period where the smaller the mobile phone, the cooler the owner. But a funny thing’s happened in the past 5 years or so. Now it’s pretty much a case of how big can you go and still get away with it! It reminds me of Dom Jolly’s skit from a few years ago… (for my friends on the other side of the pond Dom Jolly had a big mobile and he wasn’t afraid to use it … just fast forward about 28 seconds and you’ll see what I mean) :-) Now the new large mobiles are not as big as that but my Samsung SIII does look tiny sitting next to the new gen mobiles. My mobile contract is up for renewal shortly and after seeing a colleague’s Samsung Note 4 in action, I’ve got a serious case of phablet envy. It’s big. It’s bold. It’s beautiful. I’m not sure it’ll fit into my hiking pants pockets but as a woman I tend to carry either a handbag or a backpack at pretty much all times anyway so transporting this bad boy should not an issue.  AND I can use this beauty as my new SatNav as well. No more of that clunky SatNav that gives me instructions too late or throws a wobbly every time I decide to ignore its instruction to randomly “make a u-turn now” in the middle of a motorway.

Cickret bracelet: I can hear what you’re thinking… why is she talking about bling here?  Well, it’s not exactly bling. It’s allegedly a gadget that can keep you connected.  It can even double as your mobile. Now I’m not sure if this is a joke (someone has had fun with CGI) but as a concept I like it – wearable tech that doesn’t intrude on you. And we shouldn’t forget that most of the gadgets we now use didn’t even exist 10 years ago so who’s to say we shouldn’t dream… if anything we should dream big. But not Dom Jolly mobile big.

Dell Curved Screen: I’m not a gamer. Never been. Never will be. So I’m not part of the demographic that this product was designed for but I find that I’m increasingly watching movies and programs on my computer at home. So when I saw this beauty I thought it would even look cool sitting in the corner of my sitting room.  Yummy.

Tory Burch Fitbit case: teehee… lulled you into a false sense of security didn’t I? I know this is about gadgets but I’m still a girl so I have an affinity for shiny things. You all know about my relationship with my Fitbit tracker. I mostly wear Fitty when I’m out hiking; however, it really is meant to be worn at all times but it looks rather “industrial” against my regular clothes. A lot of other members of the Fitbit cult must have thought the same thing so I’m glad we finally have an elegant solution – two different gorgeous vessels for Fitbit and in three different finishes. And in case Santa is listening I’m rather partial to the silver bracelet 😉

A footstool: Yes, I’ve completely gone off reservation but you’ll see why if you click on this link There’s also a matching IC coffee table! Pretty cool, huh? The site includes instructions on how to build one but it requires use of power tools and those two words and my name should never be uttered in the same sentence. You’d know why if you saw me use something as simple as a hammer. Anyway, if you have a bit of time and wouldn’t mind making a bit of money, I know someone who’d like to talk with you.

So there you have it. My most coveted electronics related things.

As this will be my last post of the year, I thought I should also wish you and yours the very best. We’ve definitely had the festive mood in the office this year. A handful of us even decorated the Christmas tree on the development floor with our software CDs (some circa 90s!) and topped it all with a giant fan/heatsink. Now that’s what I call a nicely decorated tree. And in case, you’re wondering we didn’t optimize the location of the heatsink ;-P

Now that's what I call a "cool"  Christmas tree. Image courtesy of G. Tang. All rights reserved.

Now that’s what I call a “cool” Christmas tree. Image courtesy of G. Tang. All rights reserved.

Thank you for your support this past year and see you next year.
Until next time,


29 October, 2014

My appreciation of gadgets isn’t anything that should surprise you. I’ve already talked about a few and some have proven more useful than others. For example, my Fitbit One accompanies me on every hike so I can track and then bore my friends with all kinds of useless information while some gadgets such as my waffle iron were bought rather impetuously and get dusted once every blue moon … that is if I can even remember where I’ve stashed them around the house!

Finding a place to store lots of gadgets is not easy. Image courtesy of Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Finding a place to store lots of gadgets is not easy. Image courtesy of Microsoft. All rights reserved.

If I had an infinite budget, I’d buy every new generation of my favorite gadgets. But I don’t. So even though I appreciate a new generation of let’s say a smart phone I can’t justify upgrading it randomly unless it offers significantly more features or functions than my current one.  Recently I was “allowed” to hold a friend’s new mobile for about 5 seconds – he had stood in the queue for hours in order to get it and reluctantly handed over the mobile after I vigorously wiped imaginary dirt from my hands while promising not to drop the phone! Anyway, I quickly tapped a couple of icons and swiped to the left before I returned the mobile to its owner who was getting increasingly agitated thanks to what can only be classified as withdrawal symptoms.

During my brief encounter with said mobile I noticed a few things – it looked slick but suspiciously similar in weight, feel and size to my other friend’s Android-based phone (he was a bit less precious about letting me hold his mobile so I was allowed to tinker away with it for a lot longer than 5 seconds).  Both had large screens populated with various apps and both seemed to have an intuitive UI. What really amazed me is that the new mobile, known for its groundbreaking technology a few years ago, just felt like a me-too mobile.  But despite how I personally felt, the hype around it was massive and plenty of people felt compelled to stand in the queue for hours to get their hands on one.

Technology hype is a funny thing.

Thanks to the power of media (both paid and social) we get bombarded by images/stories of how the technology on offer can enrich our lives.  And hopefully something in there resonates with us the consumer so we’d want to part with our hard-earned cash. The Gartner research group has even created a graph to represent the hype cycle with such fantastic phrases as the “peak of inflated expectations” and the “trough of disillusionment”.  Now who among us doesn’t intuitively understand what the trough of disillusionment may refer to? Half the gadgets lurking in my shed were put there thanks to that sentiment!

While it’s easy to dispatch unloved gadgets to the dark recesses of the shed or the garage, it’s more difficult to throw out an expensive engineering tool which never delivered on the ROI promised.  Some organizations look at hard/fast dollars. Some keep track of time and process savings. No matter how your organization quantifies ROI, I think we can all safely assume that CFD use is not hype.  Its use has been very well documented across small, medium and large organizations – all you have to do is take a look at the wide range of companies that currently use our solutions here.

If you already have a CFD solution that is meeting your needs, fantastic! If however, you’ve got a solution that is kinda, sorta, maybe, meeting your needs then perhaps this is the right time to consider upgrading to a different solution. But before you do, it’s always a good idea to put together a requirements list. And you need to be brutally honest with yourself because the last thing you want is to dispatch yet another tool to the proverbial engineering tool shed. Do you _really_ need all those turbulence models? Do you need a specialist product or a general purpose one? Do you want to work inside your CAD system? If yes then you need to look at a CAD-embedded system and not a CAD integrated system. The two are different beasts – one is completely embedded in CAD and you never leave the CAD environment while the other has automated the transfer of CAD data but still requires you to use two different interfaces. Do you really _need_ to sacrifice speed for accuracy or is it possible to have both?!? Even better yet how long does it take you to prepare a model and analyze it? Throw everything in there… it doesn’t do you any good if you can transfer a model quickly but spend hours fixing the solid model or meshing it. Make sure you compare apples with apples and not apples with donkeys as one of my old colleagues used to say 😀

Right… time to get off my soap box and unpack my latest acquisition. I’m quite excited about it even though it’s not exactly high tech. This gadget cuts vegetables into spirals and should help me prepare healthier meals. We’ll see whether it’ll earn a coveted place in my kitchen cabinet or whether it’ll be dispatched fiercely into the shed. Only time will tell. In the meantime, no zucchini, parsnip or carrot will be safe in my house!
Until next time,


7 October, 2014

Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) is pretty serious business. Every day it’s used in a wide range of industries around the world to optimize products for some very practical purposes. Cars? Check! Planes? Check. Medical devices, consumer electronics and power generation? Check, check and check.  But sometimes you come across things that make you giggle. And since it’s a grey and gloomy day in England I thought you may like to join me for a giggle too. So let’s go to a special zoo.

A CFD zoo! And yes I know what you’re thinking… this is a rather bizarre zoo but hey don’t rain on my parade … we get enough of rain here as is :-):


A quick Google search turns up a few research projects involving dolphins out there. In 2006, I came across one by the Crimean State Medical University. The group was interested in investigating the mystery of dolphins’ speed.  Research scientist V.V. Pavlov used COSMOSFloWorks™ to simulate the detailed hydrodynamics of the flow around the dorsal fin of the harbor porpoise (read the paper here). He found that the shape of the dolphin’s skin matches the flow conditions around the dorsal fin. Apparently, by complying with flow conditions, the skin has the effect of suppressing instability growth in the boundary layer and reducing turbulence. What is really neat about this research is that this information could possibly aid in the design of compliant walls which might increase speed and reduce fuel consumption of ships and airplanes at some point. Cool!

Why do dolphins live in salt water? Because pepper makes them sneeze. Image courtesy of Mentor Graphics. All rights reserved.


This is a gem from a long time ago too.  The development team was testing complex geometries that can be meshed and analyzed with FloEFD. While the analysis had no real application whatsoever it was a bit of good fun and it had me in stitches for days. All you had to say was “Moo!” to me at work and I’d have tears running down my face. Who says you can’t bring fits of laughter to your colleagues with the help of CFD?

Where do cows go on a night out? To the moo-vies. Image courtesy of Mentor Graphics. All rights reserved (to the picture, not the bad joke).

Where do cows go on a night out? To the moo-vies. Image courtesy of Mentor Graphics. All rights reserved (to the picture, not the bad joke).


Not to be outdone by the general purpose CFD team, the electronics cooling development team decided to test the limits of geometric complexity with our FloTHERM XT product line last year. This “cool” fish here is the result! The plot made me giggle not because it’s absurd but because it made me think whether any of our customers were likely to design anything in electronics with a shape as complex as this. Hey… how about a fish-shaped heatsink or enclosure with liquid cooling? No? Oh well, never mind …

What do you call a fish with no eyes? Fsh :-) Joke courtesy of Sean Clark. Image courtesy of Mentor Graphics. All rights reserved.


One of my favorite holidays, Thanksgiving, is only weeks away. It’s always been a time of celebration for me and my family. A few years ago my parents absolved themselves of throwing a huge family get together and passed the party baton to the next generation. The girls now split the burden among us. My niece gets the desserts (glutton-free and sugar-free … this is Los Angeles after all).  One sister does the fixin’s (AKA stuffing and veggies) while the other does the fish (there’s always someone who doesn’t like turkey). I make my specialty… yams. And before you question the division of labor, let me just say that I make it from scratch and have to make mass quantities of the stuff as people tend to eat seconds and thirds. It’s always the first leftover to run out.

The star of the show, the turkey, is always cooked by my mom though. Why? Because the next generation has not quite mastered the art of cooking a massive turkey that doesn’t turn into turkey jerky. I used to think that we are all really bad cooks until I read one of my colleague’s blogs last year. He used FloEFD to model and analyze cooking a turkey. I used my newly found knowledge last year for Boxing Day and presto lovely turkey! To read the blog and learn how to cook a succulent turkey this year, please follow this link But you know what? I’m not going to tell my mom that I’ve discovered her secret. After all, who’d make the yams? And we all know, Thanksgiving dinner without yams is like Christmas without presents 😉

Why did they let the turkey join the band? Because he had the drumsticks. Image courtesy of Mentor Graphics. All rights reserved.

Why did they let the turkey join the band? Because he had the drumsticks. Image courtesy of Mentor Graphics. All rights reserved.

And so ends our day at the CFD zoo … with a bit of a giggle and a wee bit peckish (all this talk of Thanksgiving dinner has made me hungry). If you have any interesting or odd things that you’ve analyzed with our software solutions and would like to share them with us then please send them to me at by end of October 2014 and I’ll do a special post. And please include a description … I think we’d all love to hear the background stories (bad jokes are optional). I’ll be happy to attribute them to you but if you want to remain anonymous that’s ok too. Just let me know what you prefer and I’ll take it from there. I really hope you take me up on this offer. I can’t wait to see what kind of fun y’all have had with CFD.
Until next time,

PS. We are hiring a new Product Marketing Manager. It’s a really cool job and the group is managed by a great guy so if you’re interested then please ping me. Here’s the job description (and good luck!).

16 September, 2014

In my job I need to exercise a fair bit of creativity. Sometimes my ideas are readily picked up. Some require a lot of massaging and some never see the light of day… I used to take criticism of my ideas personally but not since hanging out with engineers. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from you guys is that there’s no such thing as failure – only outcomes. As Thomas Edison famously said “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” If a design fails to meet specifications it isn’t a failure. It’s an iteration and provides you with useful information.

Keeping this statement in mind is particularly helpful when you’re setting up models for analysis. One of the most complicated tasks related to CFD is meshing. Some consider it a black art that takes years to master. A mesh needs to be fine enough to provide you with an accurate result but the finer the mesh the longer the solution might take. So experience definitely counts because you’ll need to play with the mesh until you’ve achieved the right balance … a mesh nirvana of sorts. I remember back in the early 00’s meeting an analyst who would spend a couple of months refining the mesh on jet engines he was testing. Iteration after iteration … refining the mesh. And the more time you spend on meshing the longer you spend on analyzing the design (something that would slow down the entire This is a cost you pay for using traditional CFD software. No wonder some design engineers shy away from using CFD but I’ve got news for you.  The new generation of CFD solutions such as FloEFD, feature the latest in technology so you can reach mesh nirvana quickly :-)

Let me introduce you to the Visual Instruments Operations Division at Seiko Epson Corporation in Toyoshina Japan. The group is involved in designing projectors. Projectors are a necessary bit of kit for every conference room. If you’re like me you don’t really notice them until you realize that you have to make a presentation and the projector is missing, it’s not working or the fan inside it whines so loudly that as a presenter you start yelling at the top of your lungs. Not a fun experience for either party in the room!

Cooling airflow verification inside of the whole enclosure. Image courtesy of Seiko Epson Corporation. All rights reserved.

Cooling airflow verification inside of the whole enclosure. Image courtesy of Seiko Epson Corporation. All rights reserved.

Their analyst team started using thermal simulation back in the 90s. And in 2009, the organization adopted FloEFD to help enable design engineers analyze their own designs (as opposed to wait for the analysts) and speed up productivity. I found it interesting to read about their adoption of CFD during the early stages of the design process and how they optimized the design of their projectors while accounting for factors such as heat sources, noise and even humidity. It was fascinating to read that among their requirements for selecting CFD software for use by design engineers was that all members of the team had to be able to use it with ease of meshing being a top criteria. So by using FloEFD, their design engineers can now modify designs as they are developed. Fantastic! To read about Seiko Epson and their experience with upfront CFD please follow this link.

Pretty cool, no?

And as projectors go, the one in our conference room drives me batty. If only someone could figure out how to make all of our laptops work with it without having to revert to black magic and incantations, our meetings would actually start on time :-) Or maybe I’ll go have a chat with the IT group and see if we can get one of these beautiful Seiko Epson projectors… hmmm I feel a plan hatching!

Until next time,

PS. Thought I’d tell you guys about this brilliant initiative by Google and IEEE – The Little Box Challenge and its $1M prize! All you have to do is design a smaller power inverter (they’re looking for a reduction in size of 10x or greater). If anyone can do this, it’s you guys! And if you need a bit of help on the testing side get in touch with us. You’ve got until the end of Sept 2014 to register and it and runs through 2015. I look forward to reading about your efforts and drop me a line if you enter the contest!!! I’ll be cheering for you from the sidelines 😀

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26 August, 2014

I moved to England 10 years ago – actually it’ll be 10 years come September 1st. During this time I have seen rain, rain and even more rain. I’ve even lived through some tepid winters and downright cold summers.  In fact, I’ve adopted an endearing habit of the English and have become obsessed with the weather. Take last year for example. We had some nice weather in April (chilly but with warm sun so it was actually quite pleasant), a handful of days of proper summer weather in June, July and August. If you totaled up all the days it was something like 30 days.  And I remember turning on the heat in early September because summer left these shores well before the autumnal equinox.  That was pretty much the extent of our summer.

This March we had some lovely warm sunshine so I thought that was it and spent as much time as I could outdoors. Then April happened to be nice too. And low and behold the nice weather stayed with us in June, July and August. This is the first summer since 2006 where I actually got an English tan and remained tanned – when I went to LA a couple of weeks ago I wasn’t the palest person in the room for a change.  Of course the downside of heat in a country where it doesn’t get hot often is lack of air conditioning. Some office buildings and stores are kitted with AC but a majority of buildings including my office are not (the same kind of situation you find in San Francisco). Quite frankly we don’t need it 95% of the time and I prefer fresh to canned air any day (your skin doesn’t dry up like a lizard’s nor do you feel compelled to wear a fleece and fingerless gloves in 90 degree weather because the AC has two settings – freeze or deep freeze).  But during that 5% …

A simplified model of the hallway and my office. All rights reserved - Mentor Graphics Inc.

A simplified model of the hallway and my office. That’s me in the corner :- All rights reserved – Mentor Graphics Inc.

Working in the airflow biz, I’ve learned a few tricks over the years. Now when it gets really hot, I turn up the AC in the conference room at the end of the hallway, place a fan just inside the doorway to push the air down the hallway and the offices down on our end get to enjoy lovely cool air. That is until someone books the conference room and shuts our supply.

A colleague who’d never seen my set-up before was rather intrigued by it on the first hot day of summer. He walked into my office with a rather bemused look on his face and told me that the airflow wasn’t optimized. He adjusted the fan before returning to his end of the building (which is air conditioned). The next day he came in bearing gifts. He’d built a rough model of my set-up including me and my office and analyzed it so he could give me additional tips/tricks to improve the airflow. BTW that’s me in the corner being hot (and no this isn’t the prettiest CFD plot but it communicates what it needs to easily and without any fuss). Fantastic! He suggested a two fan model – a second fan down the hallway just inside my office door to push the cool air into my office. As soon as we deployed his suggestion my office became noticeably cooler. One happy customer right here :-)

This type of conversation probably takes place on a daily basis around the world. No, not the turn up the AC and put in a couple of fans down the hallway but the use of CFD to optimize hot and cold airflow in buildings. By using CFD architects and facilities managers can easily optimize airflow in structures of all kinds without much fuss or ceremony and without having to subject the occupants to unnecessary discomfort. And in case you’re wondering, we have a vast amount of educational material that can be very helpful if you’re trying to solve an airflow problem or two. Just follow this link to our resource library and have a good look.

Oh and I’m very pleased to say that my office has since been kitted with a lovely AC unit which keeps me nice and comfy but I’ve hardly used it since installation. It seems our summer has come to an abrupt end because we’re expecting the temperature to drop drastically in a couple of days (yup, it’s still August!). But I’m not going to complain. We’ve had a lovely summer.
Until next time,

PS. And to prove it’s been a nice summer here’s a picture I took in mid-May while out on a walk near Derby

A sunny afternoon near Derby. All rights reserved.

A lovely late spring walk near Derby.


23 July, 2014

I went out to a dinner party this past Saturday. I sat next to an ex-colleague who I now consider among my dearest friends. I met him five jobs ago – a while back we decided that it was kinder to our psyche to talk about jobs as opposed to the number of years. He is a brilliant engineer and has many years of simulation software use under his belt. He leads a team of several junior engineers who work on projects so nowadays he doesn’t get to play with software as much. But a recent project had brought one of the junior engineers to his knees so my friend was only too happy to roll-up his sleeves and get his hands dirty (so to speak). And before you say it, yes, we do talk about other things but invariably at one point or another we end up chatting about all things simulation.

Anyway, he started explaining the problem to me. I won’t go into the details but he was talking about the difficulty in meshing the model. I sat there quietly as he told me about how he fixed the mesh to get the project back on schedule. After about 15 minutes of listening, I couldn’t contain myself anymore so I blurted out why aren’t you using the automatic mesher? Our software can handle that problem without requiring all these steps. I finished that statement and pretty much everyone sitting at the table physically ducked – prepared for the verbal onslaught. You see, mentioning brand names is a no-no because a few of my friends are from the industry and use competing products. So brand name discussions can become rather heated philosophical type discussions similar to the goodness of apple pie and the flag… Thankfully he was in a good mood so he responded with a rather amused giggle and I took that as a cue to change the subject.

The evening progressed and we were several topics removed from our discussion but I still couldn’t shake the thought. Yes this is a competitive market but surely no one can be expected to deal with technology that is too difficult to use. I know meshing is a black art. But it seems that there’s this belief “in order for us to solve complex engineering problems we need difficult to use software otherwise it won’t be good enough” is so ingrained in the collective psyche that it has become a rule. The longer we believe it, the more it weaves itself into the fabric of our belief system and the more we guard it. And once something becomes a belief or habit, it’s very hard to change it… well for me it does.

Simulation results on an LED with FloEFD for Creo.

Simulation results on an LED with FloEFD for Creo created with Virtual Lab.

A few years back we published a whitepaper called the 5 Myths of CFD specifically to address these types of beliefs. During the past six years of invalidating those myths we have discovered a few more! If you’re interested in reading about those newly discovered myths, then I’d like to encourage you to download and read the 10 Myths of Computational Fluid Dynamics  And if you’d like to debunk some of those myths for yourself then give FloEFD on the cloud a try. We call it the Virtual Lab and it lets you try FloEFD for Creo for free (just follow this link for more information).   You don’t need to download anything. All you need is an open mind, your myth busting hat and a desire to see what the excitement about CAD-centric CFD is all about.
Until next time,

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6 May, 2014

The first time I came to London I was 5 years old. I’m pretty sure my parents dragged me to all the usual touristy places but I only remember disjointed fragments.

Feeding ducks in Hyde Park.

Sitting on the jump seat in a black cab.

Holding on to my dad with one hand and holding on for dear life to my new bestie, a rather large light-brown teddy bear, while standing outside Hamleys. Come to think of it we must have been quite a sight because I remember hordes of people smiling down at me and me proudly beaming my goofy smile back at them.

And strangely enough I remember the streetlights. Unlike the ones back home, these lights were orange and gave the foggy sky a rather eerie glow. When I returned to London in my 20s, I remember smiling to myself upon seeing the streetlights again. Their orange glow brought back a flood of happy childhood memories.

London on a clear summer night. Image courtesy of N Saye. All rights reserved.

London on a clear summer night. Image courtesy of N Saye. All rights reserved.

Alas my beloved orange lights are disappearing from London streets. They are being replaced with new more powerful and energy efficient LED lights.  According to a recent article from LEDs Magazine, by 2016, the city of London plans on upgrading 35,000 streetlights to LED luminaires. This project will cost the city about £11 million and is expected to reduce emissions by 9700 metric tons annually and save the city £1.85 million. While it’ll take the city a few years to pay back the investment, the ROI is clear.

Since LEDs are temperature sensitive, thermal management of LED streetlights can be quite challenging as illustrated in a recent article titled Simulation Enables Optimum LED Street Light Heatsink Design in LEDs Magazine. That’s why BUCK d.o.o., a company specializing in architectural and medical lighting, uses CFD simulation software. While working on a new streetlight design alongside Panasonic Serbia, the team used FloEFD to answer questions such as

  • How much airflow is needed to take the heat away at 55°C ambient temperature from a 140W high-power LED module?
  • In what way can they provide the optimum heat dissipation surface?
  • Where do the hottest air pockets form?

The article answered all of these questions and more. And as icing on the cake, this luminaire design was deemed so “cool” that it won the Good Design Award from the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design. To read the article  please follow this link.

As a tech junkie I celebrate new technology. But I can’t help feel a tinge of sadness whenever I see another orange streetlight disappear. You see the light right outside my house was replaced with an LED one without much ceremony a few months ago. While I now feel much safer walking home late at night, I miss laying in bed catching a glimpse of the orange light through my bedroom blinds hoping to remember some long forgotten childhood memory.
Until next time,

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