1st place winner at 2013 Reno Air Races.

Shark Skin, CFD, and EnSight help Scarlett Screamer improve aerodynamics and place 1st in 2013 Reno Air Races Edge

screamer3_real screamer4_iso

“Fly low, fly fast, turn left” was the motto of the Reno Air Races in 2013 when, for the 50th time, pilots from around the world competed in various classes above the Nevada Desert. Not only are pilots required but also the engineers who put a great development effort behind the scenes for these amazing air racing machines. Race results from recent years show clearly just how tough the fight for the podium is. True to the motto “After the race is before the race”, a whole year of intensive preparations is a prerequisite to make the aircraft even faster for the coming year.  The competition has turned to cutting edge techniques like artificial shark skin to squeeze more aerodynamic efficiency out of the airplane and gain the necessary edge to win.

Partnership in the Reno Air Races

Bionic Surface Technologies GmbH (BST), at home in the picturesque southern Austrian city of Graz, is a company that specializes in high-tech computational analysis. BST uses computational fluid dynamics (CFD) tools and has developed micro-structured surfaces called riblets to reduce friction flow on aerodynamics surfaces such as the wings of airplanes. Riblets have been called shark skin since scientists noticed 50 years ago that nature had made sharks more efficient through water than theory predicted possible.   Since 2009, BST has successfully cooperated with the Swiss Air Racing Team, using both CFD and riblets to win at the Reno Air Races. This good cooperation and excellent aerodynamic technology have contributed to the top placing each year for the Cassutt “Scarlett Screamer” flown by Swiss pilot Vito Wyprächtiger.

Using CFD to more efficiency

Since the partnership began, the aerodynamics of the Cassutt racing aircraft have been continuously improved. The primary task of BST is to modify the external shape of the racing aircraft so that a circuit around Reno’s pylon course is flown in the shortest possible time. This requires an analytical approach with suitable CFD simulation programs. Using advanced simulation technology and proprietary algorithms, the aircraft shape is optimized with the pilot in mind. This results in efficient development, as time-consuming wind tunnel testing with scale models are not required and even small effects in the design can be evaluated in a short time. BST’s flow simulations also provide operational parameters relevant for the race and thus give advanced indications of expected performance.

The starting point for the flow analysis was provided by a full-scale 3D scan of the existing aircraft. With this data, a baseline calculation was performed and compared to the experience of the pilot. This was followed by a series of geometry modifications which gradually and incrementally improved the aircraft’s performance. Modifications were made over the entirety of the aircraft, as shown in series of images below. The result is more speed with improved flight characteristics and a modified aircraft that has only slight resemblance to the original Cassutt.



Application of riblets on the Scarlett Screamer

BST’s second area of expertise is the use of micro-structured surfaces (aka “rib lets” or “shark skin”) it has developed in-house to reduce drag. The beneficial effects of micro-structured surfaces are  widely known in the aerospace industry. BST has successfully created such riblets specifically  for this application. A 4% improvement in aerodynamic efficiency has been achieved with specially-designed riblets, resulting in a 1.58% increase in the top speed of the Scarlett Screamer, a significant amount in a tight race. Peter Leitl, Chief Technical Officer of BST, developed a proprietary algorithm to determine in advance the best geometry of the riblets and the appropriate areas on the aircraft to achieve maximum. This algorithm was integrated into the existing CFD simulation program and verified by various laboratory tests and real applications. BST can thus interpret – without costly and time-consuming wind tunnel testing – the benefits, the exact riblet geometry and the ideal areas for their use. This is especially useful for applications where actual tests are expensive (aerospace, wind energy, etc.) and to determine whether riblets might bring benefits over the lifetime of the system under consideration.


Presentation of the results – the customer must understand!

Any computations gain importance to the customer when they are presented using advanced visualization tools. In the case of BST’s work for the Reno Air Races, it is important that the pilot will not only sees details of proposed modifications of his aircraft, but also how the airflow will be influenced. In other applications, for instance complex industrial flow problems,  chemical processes, etc., visualization is even more important as test results might be impossible, unsafe, or impractically expensive. For this purpose BST has found the product EnSight from CEI to be an ideal means to post process its CFD simulations.


Scarlett Screamer Streamlines in EnSight

With EnSight it is possible to present highly complex results in a simpler, more comprehensible form, allowing BST to create greater value for its customers.

As an additional service BST provides its clients with three-dimensional CFD results viewable in the freeware tool “EnLiten”, also from CEI. The customer can easily see his application in three dimensions and draw conclusions from the analysis. This provides a significant advantage over printed reports with mere captioned pictures, where a unique representation for complex flow situations is often not possible.

side by side EnSight and EnLiten showing Scarlett Screamer Streamlines
EnSight and EnLiten side by side showing the aircraft aerodynamics


As shown here, flow simulations and the effective presentation of their results are ideal means to improve existing products such as the Scarlett Screamer Reno Racer and to develop new products such as riblets.  As they say in Reno, “Gentlemen, we have a race!”.

Article by Kent Misegades, former President of CEI.


Gasifier Analysis using CPFD Barracuda

Barracuda Virtual Reactor VR – CFD post-processing of gas-particle fluidized reactors simulation from EnSight by CEI Software on Vimeo.

Animation of gasifier simulation. Physics from CPFD Barracuda is based off from discrete particle continuum. Here, the volume fraction of the particles within the gasifier stage are shown. Analysis and post processing done with EnSight.

CFD Analysis of Pump Cavitation and Acoustics

Please join us for this educational webinar on CFD analysis of pump cavitation and acoustics.

The webinar will be co-hosted by CEI, Pointwise, and CRAFT Tech.  CEI develops the EnSight post-processor, Pointwise develops the Pointwise meshing program, and CRAFT Tech develops the CFD solvers Craft and Crunch, among others.

More details below.  Pointwise Webinar Landing Page.

Combustion Research and Flow Technology (CRAFT Tech) utilizes the best CAE tools available to help investigate and understand the complex cavitation phenomena occurring in high energy water injection pumps. The complex geometry and physics of the problem make it a challenge to predict the unsteady interactions between the various components of the pump and the potential for cavitation in the impeller.The team at CRAFT Tech utilizes Pointwise for preprocessing and relies on its ability to easily manage and organize complex assemblies so they may focus on meshing a single component or multiple components at any time. This allows engineers to rapidly generate multiple blocks resulting in high quality hybrid grid assemblies while maintaining the connectivity between adjacent components to improve interpolation and solution accuracy.CRAFT Tech’s CRUNCH CFD solver is utilized to resolve the unsteady interactions within the pump and the physics involved with predicting cavitation. CRUNCH CFD contains cavitation models as well as the ability to treat the thermodynamic effects of vaporizing fluids. Both single- and two-phase unsteady analyses of the pump system are performed to understand the potential for impeller cavitation and predict the far-field acoustic properties of the pump.

Finally, EnSight is used to help extract, visualize, and communicate the results of the solution to help understand the performance and ensure a proper design of the pump. EnSight’s capability to illustrate the implicit motion of the impeller, along with dynamic and flexible post processing environment allows engineers to quickly and easily extract key information from a complex result.  CRAFT Tech’s team uses EnSight as their post-processor of choice.

Discover how to

  • Manage complex assemblies and generate high quality hybrid grids using Pointwise.
  • Employ complex CFD solver capabilities to predict the potential for impeller blade cavitation and the acoustics of the pump system.
  • Efficiently and dynamically extract the salient information from the complex geometric and temporal solution using EnSight.

Title: CFD Analysis of Cavitation and Acoustics of a High Energy Water Injection Pump

Date: Thursday, 12 September 2013

Time: 10:00 a.m. CDT (GMT -5:00)

Conducted by: Travis Carrigan, Pointwise, Inc.; Kevin Colburn, CEI, and Jeremy Shipman, CRAFT Tech

Reserve your webinar seat now athttps://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/368951406
Space is limited.System Requirements for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android


Achates Power featured in Desktop Engineering

Achates Power’s goal is to develop radically improved internal combustion engines.  Internal combustion engines would be radially improved if they increased fuel efficiency, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, AND lowered engine costs.  For that engineering challenge they’ve turned to Converge from Convergent Science in Madison, Wisconsin.  And for their post-processing, well, you can imagine what their post-processor for Converge data is.

Desktop Engineering wrote an article about their work in combustion engine simulation, you can read it here.