Multiphysics- It’s Here to Stay

My colleague, Jon Quigley, Director, Multi-Disciplinary Simulation at Altair, submitted the following blog post.

The area of multiphysics has reached an inflection point in the CAE market.  Customers are increasingly requesting solutions that span traditional single physics, and vendors are responding by providing multiphysics -capabilities.  These typically come in two forms:  sequential and co-simulation.  Sequential involves a solver for a single physics producing results that can be manipulated in preparation for a second solver run of a different physics.  An example could be using an FEA code to prepare a modal representation of a structure for further use by a CFD or MBD solver.  Co-simulation applies when two or more solvers are performing a time-forward simulation and exchanging data along the way.  One example is fluid-structure interaction (FSI), in which an FEA code solves the structural portion and a CFD code solves the fluid portion while they exchange data to properly capture the effects that each domain has on the other.   

Physics that are commonly included in CAE are “3D” mesh-based physics, such as structures (linear, implicit, explicit), CFD, thermal (fluids & solids), electromagnetics, acoustics and chemical reactions, as well as “1D” equation-based physics, such as MBD, controls, hydraulics, and electronics.  These can be combined to solve simulation needs from just about any industry.  A few examples include FSI as applied to the offshore industry for oil riser design, co-simulation between controls and MBD for automotive dynamics, and electromagnetic and (fluid) thermal for circuit heat management.

As momentum gathers for this exciting area of CAE, related activities are beginning to occur, such as NAFEMS’ first multiphysics conference, which took place in Frankfurt, Germany earlier this year.  In addition, the use of “middleware” to create a neutral layer for solvers to communicate is expanding, allowing a solver from one company to communicate with third-party solvers or even to allow more than two solvers to be included in a co-simulation.

As multiphysics continues to move into the mainstream, we can expect to see CAE tools adapt accordingly.  Whether it be pre-processors for ease of multiphysics model setup, solver enhancements for co-simulation robustness and multiphysics licensing, unified post-processing or use of optimization, there is sure to be growth in this market and the tools that support it.

Royston Jones
Royston Jones

About Royston Jones

My name is Royston Jones and I have been at Altair sixteen years. I was born in the green valleys of North Wales and eventually left my village for the bright lights of South Wales; Swansea University. It was there I was eventually persuaded to help the English with their engineering and left the principality. It’s been a great thrill seeing my passion, engineering simulation, gradually increase its impact on the design process. However, a bigger thrill has been seeing Manchester United dominate English football for two decades. I enjoy seeing my boys grow up and I am excited about how engineering simulation has become a key technology in creating highly engineered; Green products.