Don’t Stand too Close to that Door (FSI for Load Determination)
Ever walk around a power plant or a hydroelectric dam and feel a little nervous? You just know that if something goes – it’ll go big. As consulting FEA and CFD engineers, we are often tasked with taking qualitative client data and creating quantitative simulations that our clients can trust. It sounds a bit corny, using the word “trust” but the reality is that our clients are often buying “design insurance” or they are in the process of forensic engineering and trying to perform a failure analysis. In these situations, the wrong answer is not a pleasant outcome for them or for us. The big change in simulation engineering that has happened in the 21st century is the computational horsepower that is readily available. We can now run CFD simulations quickly or perform coupled fluid structure interaction (FSI) analyses or just complete transient, dynamic, nonlinear simulations (blast, drop-test, MIL-S-901D Shock Tests). Whereas in the 20th century, we were more concerned with mesh density (our favorite: cutting big squares into little squares) we can now start with a dense mesh and focus on what is most important: loads and boundary conditions. This change of focus from meshing to higher fidelity in loading and boundary conditions has been and is somewhat revolutionary in simulation engineering. A bit difficult to say this but its true, that today’s simulations are so much better due to their higher accuracy thanks to increased numerical horsepower that allows us to leverage FSI and frees us from the drudgery of meshing.
For those video fans -- here's a link to watch some FSI in action: https://youtu.be/XkMCIxNIH7s