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MEG 2700 Fluid Mechanics: CFD Tools

With much of fluid flow analysis based on experimental data rather than theoretical formulas, Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) provide a faster and more accurate approach to modeling fluid flow, especially in three-dimensional analysis and unpredictable turbulent conditions. This methodology has been well-developed with execution times, mesh sizes, and presentations improving each year.

CFD Image

Cfd racer, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

CFD Image

NASA, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

CFD Software Categories

Open-Source CFD

Software provided under a license that permits users to study, change, and improve the software. Often, software is free of cost and will be reliable and accurate if it is widely distributed for improvement by a large group of diverse developers.

  • OpenFOAM, Stanford University’s SU2, Lattice-Boltzmann solver Palabos

Open-Source wrappers CFD

Software wrapped into more user friendly environments and equipped with additional software such as pre- and post-processors.

  • Visual-CFD, HELYX, simFlow, SimScale (browser-based)

CAD integrated CFD

With the popularity and mass use of CAD software, the CFD add-ons integrated into these 3D modeling platforms are widely used. Capabilities include the solving of steady-state, single-phase, non-reacting flow problems with an ease-of-use focus.

  • SolidWorks, Autodesk Inventor

Specialty CFD

Software targeted to niche markets with specialized functionality.

  • CONVERGE (multipurpose: moving meshes, multiphase flows and turbulent combustion for focus on the automotive, internal combustion market segment); AVL Fire (automotive engine market); FloTHERM (electronics); FINE/Marine (marine applications); 6Sigma (data center ventilation); EXA (external aerodynamics); XFlowCFD (Lattice-Boltzmann simulations); SPH-flow (smoothed particle hydrodynamics simulations); CPFD (fluidized bed reactors); CFX (turbomachinery)


While this software costs more than others, they enable users with meshing and post-processing capabilities and can input from, and output to, all of the popular file types and formats.

  • Fluent and Star-CCM+, COMSOL’s CFD Module and Altair’s AcuSolve
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