IMPROVING THE FLOW
- Thursday, 12 July 2007
In early 1995, NASA's Glenn Research Center (then Lewis Research Center) formed an industry-government team with several jet engine companies to develop the National Combustion Code (NCC), which would help aerospace engineers solve complex aerodynamics and combustion problems in gas turbine, rocket, and hypersonic engines. The original development team consisted of Allison Engine Company (now Rolls-Royce Allison), CFD Research Corporation, GE Aircraft Engines, Pratt and Whitney, and NASA. After the baseline beta version was established in July 1998, the team focused its efforts on consolidation, streamlining, and integration, as well as enhancement, evaluation, validation, and application. These activities, mainly conducted at NASA Glenn, led to the completion of NCC version 1.0 in October 2000.
NCC version 1.0 features high-fidelity representation of complex geometry, advanced models for two-phase turbulent combustion, and massively parallel computing. Researchers and engineers at Glenn have been using NCC to provide analysis and design support for various aerospace propulsion technology development projects. NASA transfers NCC technology to external customers using non- exclusive Space Act Agreements. Glenn researchers also communicate research and development results derived from NCC's further development through publications and special sessions at technical conferences.
A Space Act Agreement between Glenn and Flow Parametrics, LLC, enabled the New Castle, Delaware-based company to commercialize the NCC. Engineers from Glenn's NCC team provided Flow Parametrics with technical support in accordance with the Space Act Agreement as the company developed its product, the FPVortex Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) Flow Solver. FPVortex particularly benefited from NASA's research efforts in the computation and simulation of propulsion system flow fields. Through the terms of the Space Act Agreement, the company's combustion and modeling engineers continue to frequently exchange technology and modeling ideas with Glenn's team, further improving the code.
After this was completed, the company soon realized that the FPVortex code could be applied to a very wide range of flow problems, from low-speed laminar flows to hypersonic turbulent flows with chemical reactions, including liquid spray droplet tracking, evaporation, mixing, and combustion. Engineers added advanced numerical simulation methods to speed up the code execution, including parallel processing over networked computer processing units and a versatile grid adaption strategy for mesh refinement based on flow variable gradients, and near-wall grid clustering for improved resolution of boundary layers and heat transfer effects.
With the successful development of FPVortex, Flow Parametrics met its goal of providing a state-of-the-art computational combustion dynamics capability that meets designer requirements for geometric model accuracy, turnaround time for cases, and solution accuracy. While the product is targeted at PC computing hardware, UNIX versions of the code can be made available for special purposes. The code is easily coupled with commercially available pre- and post-processing tools, which together form a cost-effective solution to complex, large-scale flow simulation problems.
FPVortex is available in executable form, under license from Flow Parametrics. The company provides full turn-key solutions for CFD-code application, including training in the use of its software, and has the flexibility to tailor FPVortex's use to specific applications, providing expert engineering consulting services to industry for advanced projects.