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Mesh Settings for PWC

The mesh for a Pedestrian Wind Comfort analysis (PWC) is quite different than for the Finite-Volume-based fluid dynamics analysis types on SimScale, as it is based on the lattice-Boltzmann method (LBM). Here a cartesian background mesh is generated, that is composed only of cube elements that are not necessarily aligned with the geometry of the buildings or the terrain. 

To take into account the exact geometry, there exists a sub-grid model that accounts for the interfaces between the geometry and the fluid domains.

The big advantage of the lattice-Boltzmann method is that the grid size is not bound by the small details of the geometry and that it is a lot more robust with respect to inaccuracies in the CAD model such as small holes, overlaps, or intersections.

The sizing for the background mesh for the PWC analysis is highly automated and targeted towards the specific use case, thus it works best for model sizes of 1 – 10 \(km^2\) and a region of interest radius of 200 \(m\) – 500 \(m\).


If you are specifically looking for mesh guidelines for the City of London, they can be found here.

Global mesh settings

The main logic of the mesh algorithm is as follows:

  • The finest cells are located near the surfaces of the geometry. In the region of interest, there is a two-level finer minimum cell size used than outside of it.
  • Close to the surface there will be a layer of 4-6 cells of the smallest cell size.
  • Away from the surfaces, roughly every 4 cells, there is an increase in cell size by a factor of 2 where again 4 cells of constant size are added.
  • Additional refinements are added in the leeward side of the buildings (there we have roughly 16 cells of the same size) in order to accurately resolve the wake region. This refinement is adapted for each wind direction individually in accordance with the actual wind direction.
  • The value of the minimum cell size used depends on the fineness level and the radius of the region of interest. In general, the smaller the region of interest, the smaller the minimum cell size. Details can be deducted from the table below:
FinenessVery CoarseCoarseModerateFineVery Fine
Relative minimum size11/21/31/41/6
Minimum size per 100 \(m\) radius0.780.390.260.200.13
Relative cell count approximation124816
Table 1: Variation in the minimum mesh cell size and the cell count approximation for the automatic meshing process in pwc analysis
  • If explicitly a minimum cell size target is needed, this can also be defined using the Target size option. This makes sure that the minimum cell size in the region of interest is at most as large as the target cell size (it can be lower). The exact value is reported in the run info. This option is specifically useful if one wants to make sure to meet the cell size requirements that certain wind standards (such as London Wind Microclimate Guidelines or the Dutch NEN8100 Wind Standard) require.
mesh settings pwc
Figure 1: Mesh settings panel for PWC simulation. Either select one of the mesh refinement options or pick a target cell size.
  • The actual cell count depends on multiple factors, such as the diameter of the (ROI) region of interest \((D)\), the height of the buildings \((h)\), the size of the wind tunnel and the complexity of the CAD model. A rough estimation for cell count for different diameter to height ratios can be seen below, assuming a Large wind tunnel is selected from the Region of interest > Advanced settings and a relatively simple CAD model:
Ratio \(D/h\)Very CoarseCoarseModerateFineVery Fine
\(D/h\) = 210e612e625e645e6100e6
\(D/h\) = 44e65e612e618e645e6
\(D/h\) = 101.5e63e67e610e620e6
Table 2: Rough estimation of cell count per \(D/h\) ratio where \(D\) being the diameter of ROI and \(h\) the height of the building

Local Mesh Refinements

Sometimes it is required to put additional focus on specific regions like entrance area, narrow street canyons between high rise buildings, complex terrain or vegetation and a local mesh refinement in these regions is desired.

In such cases either a Surface refinement or a Region refinement can be added.

Surface Refinement

A surface refinement is best suited for cases where a specific building or a set of its surfaces or solids should be refined. 

The fineness can be defined analogously to the global mesh sizing from Very coarse to Very fine. Also, in the same way as it is done for the global mesh sizing inside the region of interest, the surface refinement will result in a layer of 4-6 cells of the smallest cell size and gradually increasing with a larger distance from the surface.

pwc mesh refinement surface settings
Figure 2: Surface refinement mesh setting in PWC analysis in SimScale

Region Refinement

In case a region between two buildings or a specific open area that is of interest would need to be refined, a region refinement would be best suited. In order to locate the region where the mesh should be refined, a geometry primitive of type sphere or box can be created using the ‘+’ button and assigned by activating the slider in front of it.

region refinement pwc simscale
Figure 3: Region refinement mesh setting in PWC analysis in SimScale. You need a Geometry primitive to perform region refinement.

The sizing for the region of interest is the same as for the global sizing and the surface refinement, but in contrast to them, the smallest cell size will be kept throughout the whole assigned domain.


As a general recommendation, a local refinement that is more than one level finer than the global fineness is to be avoided as it will reduce the overall simulation efficiency. In such cases it is rather recommended to also reduce the global mesh size and limit the size difference to one level.

Last updated: January 2nd, 2021

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part of: Pedestrian Wind Comfort Analysis

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