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Benefits of Using Virtual Wind Tunnels for Aerodynamic Studies

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Wind tunnels have been one of the prominent testing tools for aerodynamic investigations. However, its use is limited mainly due to the cost required in physical setup. Additionally, these tests are time consuming and stretched the product design cycle considerably.

Fortunately, use of computational tools such as CFD provides a solution against the problems associated with physical wind tunnel tests. Despite the ability to assess aerodynamic forces and air flow characteristics more quickly, these tools are known to consume considerable time in selecting the boundary conditions, applying flow physics and generating mesh over the CAD geometry.

 

Virtual Wind Tunnel Design

Virtual Wind Tunnel Design

Thankfully, in order to fasten the process, recent development in CFD tools have made possible to perform aerodynamic analysi even more easily through virtual wind tunnel software. The software is a general-purpose finite element solver with pre-defined turbulence models that helps in quickly assessing the design before prototyping tests.

Some of the benefits include:

Since the software comes with a pre-defined turbulence models tuned as per actual wind tunnel conditions, there is no need to define the parameters separately. One simply requires importing the CAD geometry in the software, define the wind tunnel size and wind conditions. These tools even come up with CAD embedded facility, allowing designers to quickly modify the design and see the impact immediately.

Contrary to physical setup, in virtual wind tunnels, adjusting wind conditions requires merely a touch of a button. Virtual wind tunnels are highly useful and cost-effective for preliminary design analysis. Prototyping costs can be significantly reduced as number of design trials can be performed virtually. This reduces the design costs to a great extent. Moreover, the need of physical wind tunnel tests can also be eliminated completely in case where external design sensitivity against air flow is not as much critical.

These simulation tools are provided with user-friendly parameter controls that can be adjusted easily. Advanced meshing techniques takes care of all surface and volume meshing requirements, and are capable enough to handle unstructured meshes. Thus, performing an aerodynamic study on an automobile can be performed in a couple of hours. The automated streamlined workflow in these tools makes it easier for the less skilled designers to perform aerodynamic studies more easily.

Virtual wind tunnels serve as an important tool to identify critical information such as airflow characteristics, wake formations and pressure regions without much investment in time. This helps in pacing the design process and ultimately helping designers in identifying better designs cost-effectively. With many benefits to offer, virtual wind tunnel tests are ideal for manufacturers seeking cost-effective preliminary design testing methods.

(Image Source: labs.blogs.com)

Mehul Patel

About Author: Mehul Patel specializes in handling CFD projects for Automobile, Aerospace, Oil and Gas and building HVAC sectors. He works as a CFD consultant with Hi-Tech CFD for the past 5 years and has successfully executed numerous CFD projects of high complexities. He is an expert in turbo-machinery, gas dynamics, Combustion, Fluid Dynamics, multiphase flow analysis, computational fluid dynamics etc.

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