Paper Conference

Proceedings of ASim Conference 2014: 2nd Asia conference of IBPSA-China, Japan, Korea


Developing A Complete And Accessible CFD Simulation Platform For Building Applications

Nelson Marques, Bruno Santos, Susana Ramalho

Abstract: Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) is widely used as a consequence of increasing computer power, an ever more stringent regulatory framework and the refinement of client’s expectations, both to insure that certain goals are met (e.g., ventilation effectiveness) and to devise means to do so optimally. However, given the areas where CFD was firstly used, like aerospace engineering, most tools available today have not been developed with buildings in mind. Instead, they are largely the result of the big investment made in general purpose CFD codes. This has granted these tools enough modelling capabilities to tackle the most demanding of problems in the buildings arena, but it has also imparted some hindrances like high cost, long training periods, if not altogether cumbersome interfaces, and development priorities aligned with other application areas. In this paper we thus describe some technical details pertaining to a tool which can be taken as a paradigm to overcome the aforementioned difficulties in building applications. The tool is commercially available and is under active development with clear aims: deliver a specialized interface for ease of use and efficiency gains, incorporate several best-practices, provide a complete physical modelling framework to cover present and future needs, enable flexible and scalable computational capacity, allow easy and efficient interoperability with CAD packages and, last but not least, do all of the above at a cost that all parties can accommodate. In this paper we discuss technical details in four areas: overall user-interface technology, done on top of Open-Source packages including automatic aids for results analysis; physical modelling features provided by an OpenFOAM-based CFD engine; considerations on the use of both local and cloud-based computing resources and the implemented CAD interoperability technologies. Simulation results are presented for some validation test-cases. Limitations and difficulties are also presented from the CFD, software development and end-user perspectives. The authors aim to help show one approach to overcome some of the hurdles affecting CFD use and thus contribute to improve building design and operation.
Keywords: CFD, OpenFOAM, GUI, Building specific analysis, Work process integration 91
Pages: 91 - 98