As a branch of fluid mechanics, computational fluid dynamics (CFD) studies and solves the problems associated with fluid flows by using numerical analysis and data structures. It involves the use of applied mathematics, physics, and computational software to do the calculations that are required to visualize or simulate how a fluid or gas flows, as well as how it affects or interacts with surfaces or objects while flowing.
The branch of computational fluid dynamics has been around for a while and can be traced back to the early 20th century. Today, it is widely used as a tool for studying and assessing air flow around cars and aircraft. For this purpose, high-speed supercomputers are often employed to solve the complex problems associated with CFD.
The foundation of all theoretical fluid dynamics (including computational fluid dynamics) is based on the Navier-Stokes equations that describe the motion of many single-phase fluid flows. The famous equations were developed by Claude-Louis Navier and Sir George Gabriel Stokes, who incidentally never met each other. Claude-Louis Navier was the first to conduct studies on a partial section of these equations till 1822, while Sir Georges Gabriel Stokes adjusted and finalized the equations in 1845.
CFD has found a wide range applications, as it helps solve an array of research and engineering problems in a number of fields of study and industries such as aerodynamics, weather simulation, environmental engineering, industrial system design and analysis, engine and combustion analysis, aerospace analysis, and biological engineering and fluid flows.
The growing applications of CFD and its efficiency in solving complex fluid problems have led to the emergence of a number of computational fluid dynamics simulation tools or software. These software help model fluid flows and analyse the physical properties associated with fluid flows such as pressure, temperature, velocity, viscosity, and density, in order to generate a sustainable product development process.
The CFD analysis and the tools or software with which this analysis is done are useful not only for experts designing racing cars and rocket ships but also for engineers at every level across numerous industries. CFD software helps visualize or simulate fluid flows, particle dispersions, reacting flows, heat transfer, and many other parameters.
Some good examples of CFD software include ANSYS Fluent, ANSYS CFX, Solidworks flow simulation, Nastran, SimScale, Autodesk CFD, Autodesk CFD Motion, Autodesk CFD Advanced, and SolidWorks Flow Simulation.