Valve Sizing with Simulation: EJ Consulting’s CFD Story
The HUBZone program is a U.S. government program which recognizes companies that operate and employ personnel from areas that, historically, have endured financial difficulties. One of the stakeholders is also our customer, EJ Consulting Inc., a certified engineering firm located in Huntsville, Alabama.
EJ Consulting provides mechanical and systems engineering support to small manufacturing and aerospace firms. The company’s services include research driven product improvement, helping customers identify and justify optimization with engineering analysis and computer modelling.
Valve Sizing with Computational Fluid Dynamics
The engineers at EJ Consulting had an existing valve that they needed to change the size of. Physical testing would have proven difficult—pumping 200-1000 GPM and accurately measuring the pressure drop, flows, and forces—, thus creating a prototype was not the most practical way to go.
“We knew that if we did not use CAE (Computer-Aided Engineering), we would need to estimate the flow from similar valves, and not alter the design. We anticipated the simulated valve would perform better,” said EJ Consulting’s engineers.
To find the right dimensions in the valve sizing process and assess its performance, they chose the SimScale simulation platform for both CFD (incompressible flow) and FEA (static analysis). The company modelled 7 different valve sizes at 5 different positions (35 meshes). This required approximately 105 simulation runs for the various velocities.
CAD software was used to create the flow volume, 6 pipe diameters upstream and 10 pipe diameters downstream, where pressure taps would be installed in a physical test environment.
The major challenge that our customer faced was setting the Hex dominant refinements for each concerning area of the mesh. “Using Hex dominant refinements proved accurate, but costly results when using it for individual problem areas. As an alternative, we compared the results to the tetrahedral mesh with layers and confirmed the results were applicable and useful. Having both processes allowed us to confidently navigate between an economical simulation process and the most accurate method.”
Why is SimScale Different?
With SimScale, once the engineers had a good mesh design, they ran 5 simulations simultaneously. Once started, they could work on something else concurrently, since the analysis does not consume machine power, as with traditional simulation software.
Most of the simulations ran on a single core and took about an hour to complete. For the hex meshes, our customer used 8 cores to provide enough memory and computational power. Despite this, the calculation took 2 hours due to the increased complexity of the system.
“With the simulations done on SimScale, we characterized the valve (original goal) and gained much greater insight into the interaction between the valve and the fluid at each valve position. This will help us provide a better analysis in the future. SimScale has proved to be a flexible and scalable tool for our valve sizing project, which was critical for a HUBZone firm.”
What is next?
EJ Consulting’s team is planning to build the future by employing and developing HUBZone employees and make a difference in their community. As for cloud-based simulation software, it turned out to be exactly what they hoped for: an easy and accessible way to perform reliable simulations.
If you want to give SimScale a try, a 14-day free, no-commitment trial is available on the website.