Wind, one of the most powerful manifestations of nature, is present everywhere. And as long as humans have inhabited the earth, it has been a source of mystery, fear and even devotion. Our curious minds have long tried to understand the nature of gusts, hurricanes, and calm winds. Why do they occur? How do they behave? What threats do they pose? And more importantly, how can we benefit from them? From all of these questions, the field of wind engineering was born.
Wind engineering is a very exciting area of knowledge, as it has so many practical applications (some of which we will investigate below), which also turn out to be relevant for many aspects of our daily lives. Some of its benefits are unknown to many people, even though they benefit from it in a significant manner.
Numerical Simulation with CFD
Wind-related technology depends on the ability of engineers to understand and predict flow behavior. This specific requirement fuels the centuries-long quest for equations and rules to model fluid flow, a quest that is still relevant today and poised to drive research for many years to come.
Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) is one of the most important achievements of this research field. Its power resides in the ability to apply physical fluid models to almost any geometry, which is done by leveraging the use of numerical methods and digital computers. And because of this last characteristic, its application power has grown hand-in-hand with the growth in computing power.
But one common limitation that practical applications of CFD have found is related to this very same computing power aspect. Regular workstation computers often lack the required amounts of memory and processing speed to run viable models—this means sufficiently fine, convergent mesh densities of geometrically accurate and detailed models. Simulation engineers then have to rely on approximated and simplified models to carry out their work in a reasonable time, sacrificing the full potential of the technique.
Cloud Computing and SimScale
This problem has led to the creation of supercomputers and parallel computing networks. But these solutions are expensive to implement and maintain, which puts them out of the reach of the majority of professionals. On the other hand, the advent of cloud computing has shed a new light on the matter. Remote Internet computer servers can be put to work for CFD simulations on demand, with high computing power and cost reduction.
The SimScale platform is exactly this! It puts cloud computing power in the hands of engineers in an easy, affordable and reliable way. By leveraging cloud computing, all processing and data storage is done remotely, with automatic security and backups. And it is accessed through the web browser, so there is no need to install and manage local software and licenses. It even has a free Community account and public reference projects to help one test and start simulating right away.