CD-adapco Brings Multi-disciplinary Design eXploration to System Simulation
Shawn Wasserman posted on March 18, 2014 |

The focus of CD-adapco’s STAR-CCM+ V9 is Multi-disciplinary Design eXploration (MDX). The idea is that as product designs become more complex, engineers have to start simulating whole systems in order to produce the quality products their customers require.

Increasing Complexity

To increase throughput, realism and accuracy while handling the complexity of current simulations, CD-adapco has made a few announcements for V9. They are looking to increase mesh efficiency, the robustness of their pre-processing and the efficiency of their numerical algorithms to handle 100’s of millions of degrees of freedom on thousands of cores. Here is a summary of the V9 improvements:

Accuracy Realism Throughput
Dispersed Multi-phase Import Rhino3D Multi-part Volume Extraction
Elliptic Blending K-ε Directed Meshing Baffles Faster Sliding Interface
DARS Integration (chem. rxn.) Mesh Deformation Simulation Assistant (branching/looping)
Maxwell-Stefan diffusion DEM Composites from CAD Tumble/Swirl in Adjoint
Solver: Transverse Magnetic Vector Potential Volume Rendering Boundaries (Dynamic Overset)

Jean-Claude Ercolanelli, Sr. VP of Product Management, notes that solution mapping is much faster from v8.06 to v9.02. When remeshing a 12m cell aerodynamics test, mapping time was 10-200 times faster depending on the number of cores used. Additionally, interfacing intersection calculations run in parallel was 3-9 times faster between v8.02 and v9.02.

According to Product Manager Matthew Godo, “Complexity is broadly defined. For instance, it can be the complexity of physics, in particular multiphysics. When people talk about multiphysics, they want multiple solvers to talk to each other while solving their own particular problem. The benefit here for STAR-CCM+ users is that having all the physics in the same interface makes it easier.”

Godo adds that, “The domain of the problem can also be complex. Think of modelling the underhood of a car. They are looking at thousands of parts with a range of physical properties. Being able to manage at that complexity is a challenge when users have increasing performance expectations. Users expect everything will work easier and faster enabling them to meet their deadlines.”

Open Architecture: CAD and FEA

Engineers and analysts who have been invested heavily in their legacy programs and codes find it difficult to switch to a new product. To make the switch more compelling, STAR-CCM+ announced that it can now co-simulate, and modify CAD models, between various in-house and third party tools thanks to the newly acquired HEEDS MDO platform.

STAR-CCM+ will offer certain CAD capabilities such as Internal Volume Extractions, Boolean subtractions and more consistent constraint applications. The software will import Rhino 3D native formats, colored STL geometry and import face names from PTC Creo.

Ercolanelli adds that there is a “major upgrade to the constraint management. Over-constraining is now less likely to occur and be more easily identified.” He adds that “the constraint application is more consistent with other CAD software.”

Godo says, “Being able to communicate with other engineering tools is also important. One thing that is competitive and distinct is how we work with CAD tools. We are not just an interface where communication is one way. We make it bi-directional. When you make a change in CAD, it is seen in STAR-CCM+ and vice versa. This is critical as it opens up optimization. It enables users to do hundreds of design simulations and identify the best design in that space.”

As for the solver code interactions, Godo notes that “people who have structural codes in-house are highly committed to them, so it makes sense to leverage and build on their knowledge base. We are developing the technology on our own, but we are also being sensitive to our community; to give our users the most flexibility either by delivering tools to meet their needs within STAR-CCM+ or to work seamlessly with their in-house and third party tools.”

FEA analysis

When Godo says they are developing technology, he is not kidding. By 2015, CD-adapco will be implementing FEA analysis into their tools. The combination of FEA/CFD multi-physics will open up interesting possibilities such as assessing the structural integrity of a ship as it is being hit by waves.

“Historically people have seen us as a CFD company,” says Stephen Ferguson, Corporate Marketing Communications Manager. “This is the next big step. We have been adding other physics for years, and yes, we can link to other simulation tools, but we would like to have all our customers solve all their simulations using STAR.”

Adjoint Solver

Though not unique to V9, Godo was quite excited about the Tumble/Swirl advancements of the adjoint solver. By deciding on a cost function, like the mixing swirl in an engine, the software will be able to help you reshape your model for optimization.

“The adjoint solver tweaks your solution based on a cost function,” said Godo. “It gives you a direction to morph the geometry. With adjoint you don’t have to run back to CAD, you are pulling the geometry around to optimize and predict the outcome of a cost function. And it’s cheap by comparison. You can take the geometry and solution you have and come up with a better version of that object.”

Post Processing

Of the ideas suggested on Ideastorm, post processing seems to be the biggest priority to the user base. Godo explains, “Post processing is of interest to our user as it facilitates the engineer’s ability to make actionable decisions from their simulation efforts and determine their next course of action quickly. Effective post processing is not always intuitive, but it should be simple to set up.”

Using Volume rendering, your final graphic will look much more realistic. For a more in-depth explanation click here.

Other post processing development themes include:

  • Colourmap editor
  • Custom reporting
  • Data reduction and better performance with resampled volumes
  • Remote visualization

Licensing

CD-adapco altered their licensing method to allow their “power tokens”, traditionally used for concurrent simulations and standalone pre/post processing, to also access traditional HPC licenses.

According to Erwin Schnell, Sr. Project Leader from Gruner, a simulation building service, “What I’m looking forward to in terms on licencing is to have optimum flexibility for midsized enterprises where engineers don’t work 100% on CFD. I want the flexibility to split up licences between running jobs like computing power and between the daily work of setting up the model and daily pre and post processing.”

For example, if a user purchases 50 power tokens they now have access to any of the following:

  • Perform 1 job with 50 cores
  • Perform 1 pre/post processing job on 40 cores
  • Perform 1 MDX job with 5 “what if” scenarios on 10 cores
  • Perform an alternative combination

User feedback on STAR-CCM+

If you ask VP of Sales and Support Didier Halbronn how he feels the company is doing with MDX, you can see by the graph that the answer is “quite well”. He feels that CD-adapco is a leader in business models and technology, while offering affordable and feasible high fidelity large simulations.

Some users claim that these new additions take time to mature before they are comfortable using them. There have also been some suggestions that the steep learning curve of STAR-CCM+ might be smoothed by more user-friendly notifications for beginners, such as if you accidentally set up a simulation poorly.

Finally, if you are wondering what is next for 2015, here is a preview:

  • FEA (solid stress, injection processes, viscoelastic flows, implicitly coupled FSI, displacements, shell and beam extensions)
  • Dedicated electronics tool
  • Adjoint surfacing parameters for CAD
  • Parallelization of Mesh (surface mesher, specialized meshers)
  • Local remeshing
  • Morphing: 3D-CAD free surface model
  • Linking and brushing for post-processing
  • Remote visualization / Vis. Performance
  • Animation (camera motion)
  • Multi-viewing
  • And more

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