For over 100 years, propellers have been the propulsion method of choice for aircraft, helicopter, and boat manufacturers. With the rise of multi-rotor technology, the limitations of this ancient method of propulsion have placed a glass ceiling on emerging industries such as drone delivery and “flying cars.” Besides the obvious safety issues, the faster that a blade rotates the more inefficient it becomes at transferring energy into thrust. A key reason for this upper limit on economies of RPM is that the faster a blade spins, the more prominent the vortex geometry becomes in the mass flow, which is parasitic to propulsion. This constrains both payload and range. Continue reading
Engineering is a pretty exciting place to be right now. There seems to be amazing news about new products and technologies being tested and released nearly every day. ANSYS 18.2 just launched and it’s packed with cool stuff. ANSYS Mechanical has a raft of new capabilities to help engineers make new technologies a reality.
I’m amazed at some of the commercial space industry achievements going on right now and of course, being a big car fan, the technology going into the automotive sector is just incredible. In order to bring these products to market, big changes are taking place in the companies designing these products.
More efforts are being put into every aspect of product design and the drive to build better products faster means increased pressure on engineers. Continue reading
Smoking meat (and other food) in a barbecue smoker doesn’t sound complicated, but there are more factors at work in producing delicious food than you would expect. Barbecue enthusiast Travis Jacobs, president of Jacobs Analytics, was aware that in windy conditions the air flow through the bottom inlets and the top outlet vents of a smoker can be variable, leading to internal temperature gradients and swirling air that removes smoke and makes a less savory product. He wanted to make a smoker that could smoke food to perfection in any conditions. Unlike most of us non-engineer weekend barbecuers, he turned to computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations to solve this problem.
If you’re not familiar with topological or topology optimization, a simple description is that we are using the physics of the problem combined with the finite element computational method to decide what the optimal shape is for a given design space and set of loads and constraints. Typically our goal is to maximize stiffness while reducing weight. We may also be trying to keep maximum stress below a certain value. Frequencies can come into play as well by linking a modal analysis to a topology optimization.
Why is topology optimization important? First, it produces shapes which may be more optimal than we could determine by engineering intuition coupled with trial and error. Second, with the rise of additive manufacturing, it is now much easier and more practical to produce the often complex and organic looking shapes which come out of a topological optimization. Continue reading
Vibration in terms of simulation, for me at least, immediately makes me think of vehicles and larger structures: ride comfort in cars, the incredible forces caused by vibration that equipment on rockets see and rotating machinery. These are all obvious areas that our customers use simulation to help understand the effects of vibration. It seems that designers of much, much smaller devices are also very interested in vibration.
When preparing for a business or personal trip, most of us want to check our travel routes in advance. There are many route-planning tools on the web today, and they help us to anticipate route difficulties such as heavy traffic, changes in street names, road sizes, accident locations, and many more. Some of these map applications even tell us what time we need to leave our starting location to reach our destination on time. Many of us end up “virtually” driving the route several times before we take the actual drive. Those virtual drives help us get from point A to point B in the shortest time possible, without unpleasant surprises.
Antenna system developers often face a similar challenge: We may have a great antenna design to get an RF signal from point A to point B in isolation, but the scattering environment around the antenna directly impacts the antenna’s ability to get the job done. So how do we anticipate the different routes that the signal might be forced to take to reach its destination? You guessed it—modeling and simulation of the antenna’s interaction with that environment. Continue reading
ANSYS has long held the vision that every engineer would be able to benefit from the insight of engineering simulation. It seems intuitive that you would want to build a digital model of your product and instantly see stresses, flows, temperature, etc. to gain insights into the design, as well as make changes in in real-time and see how they affect the performance.
Simulation is ranked as one of the most critical engineering technologies in this age of the Internet of Things and additive manufacturing. However, half a century after its introduction it is still the domain of specialists and used predominantly for the most complex of engineering projects. Why? The learning curve is steep, sometimes requiring decades of experience, and it is after all rocket-science and can be both complex and time consuming to do simulations. All of this is about to change! Continue reading
LEDs are increasingly used in automobile headlights because of their small size and reduced energy consumption. But, though they are much more energy efficient than traditional headlights, most of the energy required is converted to heat rather than light — 70 percent, in fact. This presents a challenge to engineers and designers because, since they are semiconductor-based, the diode junction of LEDs must be kept below 120 C. Maintaining temperature below this limit typically involves cooling airflow from an electric fan combined with heat sink fins.
EnSight, the leading post-processor for Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) data is now part of ANSYS. In the two decades since its launch, EnSight has taken off like a multistage rocket. Here is the story.
I grew up in that magical era when NASA used multi-stage rockets to carry Apollo astronauts to the moon and back. As a toddler I learned to count backwards from 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 … because that’s what I heard Mission Control say. I dreamt of being an astronaut, studied aerospace engineering and started my career at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. I met my lovely wife there, blocks from the NASA gates. Her parents still live next door to Buzz Aldrin’s Apollo era house. I used to store my lunch in the Mission Control fridge while working on my space shuttle aerodynamic simulations in the support room next door. So maybe it’s natural for me to think in rocket terms. Continue reading
Nuclear power is a key player in the future of clean energy, and multiple companies are pursuing new technologies to maximize nuclear’s contribution to the clean energy space. Founded in 2011 and based in Cambridge, MA, Transatomic Power is an advanced nuclear technology startup developing and commercializing a molten salt reactor (MSR), or a nuclear reactor whose fuel is in liquid, rather than solid, form. This technology, originally developed at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in the 1960’s, offers multiple safety and cost benefits over traditional nuclear reactors, in which the fuel is in the form of solid pellets cooled by water.
Tranatomic’s MSR design builds on the original work at ORNL and adds a few innovative new features that reduce the reactor’s size and, as a result, it’s cost – a huge factor in building new nuclear power plants. Though the development process is a long one, the world needs a larger capacity for clean energy generation, and it’s this ultimate goal that drives the Transatomic team forward. Continue reading