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Turbomachinery, Propellers, & Pump Simulation Solutions

Exploded view of multiphysics simulations of a centrifugal pump (turbocharger) simulation, from left to right: Modal stress & deformation, thermal stress in casing (thermal shock), CFD fluid flow simulation of the compressor intake

SimScale provides high-fidelity engineering simulation tools for propeller, fan, compressor, pump, and turbomachinery applications that are both technically and economically accessible for designers and engineers, at any scale, in the cloud.

Our innovative cloud-native simulation platform lets you explore, test, validate, and optimize your product ideas and designs through the use of computational fluid dynamics (CFD), heat transfer, and structural dynamics analysis. The advanced physics solvers allow designers and engineers to study & optimize pressure drop and force behavior, evaluate fluid flow patterns, and minimize (or even leverage) cavitation effects.  

By deploying simulation early in the product design process turbomachinery & pump engineers can ensure that they meet and in most cases exceed their design validation requirements. Simulation provides detailed insights into performance characteristics, allowing engineers to identify design strengths and weaknesses in a virtual prototype, avoiding costly physical testing & prototype rework.

Furthermore, the resultant time & cost savings from simulating early and often allows engineers to explore more of their ideas, sparking innovation which often leads to IP and a competitive edge.

Turbomachinery & Energy Turbines

  • Water Turbines
  • Wind Turbines
  • Steam Turbines
  • Cyclone Separator

Compressors, Fans & Blowers

  • Centrifugal Fans
  • Axial Fans
  • Bladeless fans
  • Centrifugal compressor
  • Roots supercharger

Propellers

  • Urban Air Mobility (UAM)
  • Concept aircraft propellers
  • Micro-rotors
  • Micro Aerial Vehicles (MAVs)
  • Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)
  • Marine propellers

How can SimScale solve your greatest design challenge?

Request a Demo

Features and Benefits 

Pump design performance curves of various design iterations generated by Simscale CFD simulation

Cloud-Native Parameterization

Enables rapid design iterations and automated performance curve generation (pump curves & fan curves).

CFD simulation results showing flow streamlines in/around the fan of an electric motor assembly

Solver Speed & Accuracy

SimScale meets and in many cases exceeds the accuracy and speed of traditional CAE simulation tools. Note that speed does not compromise accuracy! Test models have achieved 2-3% accuracy within 15 minutes. 

  • Advanced analysis capabilities include cavitation and multiphase flow along with robust meshing are up to 20x faster than competing tools.
  • Rapid transient simulations: Transient analysis is a must-have for turbomachinery simulations due to the inherent unsteadiness of flow around rotating components. SimScale provides time-accurate modeling of rotor blades, by generating a sliding mesh for the rotating component. The speed of transient analysis and other physics modules like cavitation is 10x traditional simulation tools.
Detail of Simscales UI showing intuitive, easy to use menus and navigation. RHS of image show results of aCFD simulation of a turbine impeller.

Ease-of-use

Turbomachinery simulations and workflows are usually complex —SimScale takes away the complexity and replaces it with an intuitive, automated, and robust UI which reduces person-hours required for simulation and also makes it accessible to non-experts/designers.

  • Automation of moving mesh interfaces, rotating region creation, workflow parity between different solvers, etc.
  • Automated and robust mismatched mesh/grid interface (MGI)
  • Automation of rotating region and intelligent simulation control
Example of Simscale CAD associativity with OnShape - Showing one of several centrifugal compressor design iterations.

API Integration & Automation

Changing geometry and simulating new designs quickly and seamlessly is generally a big ask from turbomachinery & pump engineers. CAD Associativity makes it easy for users to quickly simulate different design iterations imported from their CAD system. This feature allows geometry to be swapped retaining load and boundary condition assignments and is available for OnShape and Solidworks. Additionally, the SimScale API facilitates bi-directional coupling with many popular CAE  design optimization tools, including ESTECO modeFRONTIER & VOLTA.

Multiphysics simulation of a drone UAV, showing CFD airflow streamlines around propellers and the resultant structural stress on the body and arms of the drone.

Multiphysics/Multi-Disciplinary Analysis

Fluid dynamics, thermal, and structural physics simulation are all on the same platform, enabling turbomachinery engineers to investigate rotordynamics, mechanical stress, deformation, and heat transfer in addition to fluid dynamics.

  • orbital marine 120 95

    “To get the results from a scale model testing program would have taken 1-2 months and cost £10k for each iteration of the design. With SimScale, we were able to run simulations in just under an hour and make small design changes and run again, this condensed the iterative design process down to several days.”

    Jonathan Meason

    CTO at Orbital Marine Power

  • hazleton pumps logo

    “SimScale drastically changed our R&D landscape regarding time (99.9% quicker), cost (no HPC and data storage) and simulation accuracy. It allows us to complete development cycles within days instead of months which gives us a massive advantage to our competition. I would say that this software is not evolutionary but rather disruptive. My recommendation to use SimScale for anyone in the engineering design space cannot be higher.”

    Benjamin van der Walt

    Engineering Manager at Hazleton Pumps International

  • designCraft logo

    “SimScale’s customer support is positively surprising, because usually the customer pays a lot of money but needs to wait days or even weeks for support reply. SimScale service has a very clear structure, that one account manager and one support engineer are my only points of contact to listen to my request, and positively keep me updated.”

    Trond Gudmundsen

    Founder at Design Craft

  • Schübeler Technologies

    “The main advantage to using SimScale for us is to have a fast and simple way to get FEM calculation results. We don’t really need experience with Code_Aster but still get really quick and reliable results. Also, the subscription price is reasonable.”

    Sandro Pinent

    Managing Partner at Schübeler Technologies

jonathon meason ben van der walt portrait of Trond portrait picture of Sandro Pinent

Simulation Physics & Features

CFD airflow streamlines around a turbine impeller

Fluid Dynamics (CFD)

  • Incompressible fluids
  • Compressible fluids
  • Internal or external Flow
  • Laminar or turbulent flow
  • Steady-state or time transient flow
  • Isothermal
  • Single or Multiphase fluids
  • Scalar Transport
  • Subsonic flow
  • Porous Media
  • Cavitation
Thermal stress in the housing of a blower housing, showing stress concentration around the shaft bearing location groove.

Thermal

  • Conduction
  • Convection
  • Thermo-Structural
  • Convective Heat Transfer
  • Conjugate Heat Transfer
  • Steady/Transient
  • Surface & Volumetric heat loads
  • Active Fan cooling
  • Thin layers
Structural simulation results showing stress contours in the root of a turbine blade.

Solid Mechanics (FEA)

  • Static Stress & Deformation
  • Transient Dynamics
  • Harmonic Vibration
  • Thermal Stress
  • Eigenmodes
  • Impact & Contact
  • Linear & Nonlinear (geometric & materials)
  • Frequency Analysis

Feature Highlights

CFD simulation results showing flow streamlines in a centrifugal pump.

Subsonic CFD Solver

The SimScale Subsonic CFD solver is a multi-purpose analysis type specifically designed for turbomachinery, propellers, and more generally anything that rotates within a fluid. It includes a robust meshing strategy that produces an automated body-fitted mesh, plus a Finite Volume based solver optimized to handle a wide range of flow regimes including: 

  • Incompressible (isochoric)
  • Compressible
  • Laminar
  • Turbulent

The Finite Volume-based CFD solver has segregated pressure-velocity coupling that uses a proprietary variant of the SIMPLE1 algorithm to solve the Navier–Stokes equations. It can simulate both incompressible and compressible flow, either laminar or turbulent in a single framework. Turbulence is modeled using the RANS equations with the k-epsilon turbulence model for closure and proprietary wall functions for near-wall treatment. Subsonic supports steady-state as well as full transient analysis. In full transient analysis, the fluid flow is modeled in a time-accurate manner and any rotating component in the domain is solved using the sliding mesh approach.

Sectional view of refined mesh around the impeller and inlet of a centrifugal pump

Body Fitted Cartesian Meshing

The Subsonic analysis type provides a very robust, automated binary-tree-based meshing algorithm producing hexahedral cells suitable for the underlying Finite Volume-based CFD solver. The meshing algorithm is highly parallelized for multiple CPU cores, reducing high-quality mesh generation times by considerable margins, and requires fewer cells to achieve the same level of accuracy and rapid solver convergence. Another feature is the automatic generation of optimal mesh interfaces between the rotating and stationary components of the system being simulated.

Cavitation simulation results showing volume fraction of gas contours in proximity to the impeller blades, red indicates the highest volume fraction, blue is zero volume fraction

Cavitation

Cavitation is the formation of vapor bubbles in low-pressure/high-velocity regions of liquids. Cavitation reduces propeller/impeller performance & can even lead to physical damage to the rotating part and structure in close proximity. This is because when the cavitation bubbles collapse they generate shock waves that create mechanical vibration (& acoustic noise). This is an important real-world effect that SimScale factors into the CFD simulation of pumps, water turbines, and marine propellers, or any rotating machine immersed in a fluid. The SimScale subsonic multiphase CFD solver computes the space occupied by each phase (volume fraction) and cavitation results are shown as the volume fraction of gas present (in the liquid).

CFD simulation results showing flow streamlines of a fan/blower

Pump/Fan Curves

Turbos, pumps, and fans are fundamentally mechanical machines used to generate fluid flow. As the flow rate increases, the pressure drop between the inlet and outlet of the machine/system increases, which affects the performance of the machine/system. Pump and fan manufacturers provide pump/fan curves that describe the relationship between static pressure, power requirement, rotational speed, and efficiency values per-flow rate conditions. This information is very important for engineers who need to ensure the correct size of fan/pump is installed to achieve the desired flow rate/cooling conditions in the system. SimScale allows engineers to directly enter the manufacturer’s fan/pump curves data as a table, this is good news for engineers using off-the-shelf pumps/fans. However, for those designing new fan/pumps, SimScale can also calculate pump/fan curves for a design by running parametric studies/sweeps that solve for a range of pressure drop/flow rate scenarios of the design. The highly parallelized and cloud-optimized algorithms allow a parametric study to run in nearly the same time as a single data point run!

CFD transient solver results chart showing accuracy of the SimScale transient solver compared to steady state and experimental results.

Transient Solver Accuracy

Cloud-optimized solvers make it possible to run transient CFD simulations in a fraction of the time taken by traditional CAE. For example, a full transient simulation for a centrifugal pump with a mesh size of nearly 0.6 million cells takes under 20 minutes. The same simulation in traditional CFD tools would take at least 12 hours. 

To establish the accuracy and reliability of the transient solution, we have validated the solver against a range of standard benchmarks. The chart shows the comparison of power vs. flow rate for a centrifugal pump. The results from the transient analysis are a very close match with the experimental results, far closer than the steady-state MRF method. Also, a mesh independence study for this case resulted in a model size of about 0.6 million cells and a full transient run for one flow rate took just 18 minutes to complete.

Validation Cases & Benchmarks

Request a Demo

FAQs

Yes. It is possible to factor in cavitation in SimScale i.e. The formation of vapor bubbles in when the pressure in the domain falls below the vapor pressure of the working liquid. Cavitation is a feature that can be enabled at the Create Simulation top level menu in SimScale, in the same dialog box where the user chooses steady state or transient simulation.

Yes. SimScale provides a conjugate heat transfer solver that simulates heat transfer from the fluid domain to the mechanical parts, or visa-versa where heat is transferred from the structure into a fluid. In this regard SimScale can also be used to simulate heat exchangers.

SimScale’s Subsonic analysis type can handle transonic and supersonic flows and as such, there is no limit of the turbine RPM.

For turbomachinery & flow control applications, SimScale uses a proprietary solver that is specifically tailored for such applications, it is based on the Simerics solver, and available within the SimScale Subsonic analysis type. SimScale also offers other CFD analysis types that are also suitable for turbo machinery rotating machinery and flow control applications, these are based on a proprietary version of OpenFoam.

Yes. SimScale supports one way coupled fluid-structural simulations. So in the case of a wind turbine you pass the CFD dynamic loads into a structural simulation to look at the stress and deflection of the blades.

SimScale provides a rotating wall and a rotating zone approach. Rotating walls are applicable to cylindrical surfaces which rotate. The Rotating zone approach is commonly used to simulate rotors and impellers that rotate on a fixed axis. There are two flavors of rotating zones: Multiple Reference Frames (MRF) is used for steady state; and Sliding Mesh technique is used for fully
transient simulations. Sliding mesh is computationally more expensive than MRF, as it takes into account all transient effects.

Yes. It is possible to simulate fluid viscosity as a function of temperature in Subsonic analysis type, when compressible mode is enabled.

Yes, it is possible to simulate Non-newtonian fluid flow in all the OpenFoam based solvers of SimScale. This capability is also on the Subsonic solver roadmap for a future release.

Cavitation is shown in post processing as total gas volume fraction, so you can see exactly the regions where cavitation is most likely to occur.

SimScale’s turbomachinery solver, Subsonic, can be used to run multiple flow rates simultaneously to automatically generate a pump/fan curve.