Last edited 22 Jun 2021

Integrating CFD into the design process


[edit] Introduction

With 97 of the top 100 industrial companies on the “FORTUNE Global 500” investing in simulation as a key strategy to solve a range of engineering challenges, it's clear computational fluid dynamics (CFD) has much to offer.

In 2018, sustainable building design has never been more important, with architects seeking ways to integrate technology in the design and build of more energy-efficient structures. Despite the role CFD can play in increasing sustainability, limitations and perceptions currently restrict its wider adoption, particularly among architects and consultants working in SMEs where budgets and resources may not be as expansive.

Modern CFD tools are making strides to address the void and to highlight the huge advantages to integrating high performance software for overcoming challenges - particularly within HVAC designs. In this article, we highlight how CFD can be integrated into the design process, where it can be applied, the common barriers and how these are being addressed, and the opportunities it can bring to those working in the sector.

[edit] Common Applications

CFD has become well known for the integral role it plays in the aerospace and automotive industries, yet it offers huge potential to facilitate improvements to a number of applications in the built environment and HVAC sectors.

Common Problems in the Built Environment:

  • Buildings above 10 stories require wind studies. Recent cases have shown the importance of understanding a building's impact on the local micro-climate and environment, as well as highlighting the dangers if due processes are not followed.
  • Some government agencies are now mandating BIM studies.
  • Hand calculations are often impractical and time-consuming.
  • Some physical phenomena cannot be calculated by hand or with calculators - notably passive HVAC and buoyancy driven phenomena.
  • Higher end or LEED certification processes don't currently have a streamlined process of achieving their specifications.

[edit] CFD in the Design Process

While every design project is different, there remains a clear goal to create a sustainable design fit for purpose, within a set budget and timeframe.

At present, simulation is often performed at the end of the process and while this still facilitates design improvements, the use of CFD in the early stages could potentially prevent late design changes that prove costly and extend project timeframes.

When integrated into the workflow, CFD can bring huge benefits particularly when working with challenging and complex HVAC environments. The hesitation to use CFD can be attributed to one or more of the common barriers listed below.

Overcoming Common Barriers to Using CFD:

[edit] Opportunities with CFD

Overall, CFD has the potential to provide a number of key opportunities to architects, consultants, designers, manufacturers, and all those working in the built environment.

These include:

[edit] Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki

Designing Buildings Anywhere

Get the Firefox add-on to access 20,000 definitions direct from any website

Find out more Accept cookies and
don't show me this again