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Real Time Particle Tracing Software For Finite Element Simulations of Fluid Flow Applications

Steven Ford

Principal Investigator:
Professor Tayfun E. Tezduyar, T*AFSM

This project involves the development of a FORTRAN code that simulates particle tracing on CFD solutions of fluid flow problems. Particle tracing is a means of visualizing flow properties that is very intuitive. Particle tracing involves releasing massless particles into a fluid flow. The particles follow streamlines in the fluid and provide a visual representation of the fluid motion. Particle tracing is often used in experimental flow analysis and, as such, is an established means of studying a flow. The motion of the particles allows the observation of large scale effects such as boundary layers and vorticity.

Contaminant dispersion around M1 battle tank at 20 mph
Many existing particle trace programs require all necessary data to be input prior to the displaying of the results. These programs read the data, perform the calculations, and store the particle trace information for replay. The particle trace can then be displayed as a recorded movie. The focus of this project is to implement "real time" particle tracing on CFD solutions. A real time particle trace displays the motion of the particles as they are computed allowing the user to interact with the simulation and manipulate objects within the flow while the trace is running.

Airflow past an automobile at 55 mph
The program generates a prescribed number of particles at random locations within a defined release plane. These particles move with the fluid based on the solution which was computed previously through a numerical simulation. The movement of the particles is computed and displayed at each time step in real time. This allows the software to be applied to any mesh in order to observe the particle trace results immediately. The program also provides the option of recording an image at each time step for use in creating a movie of the results.

Airborne contaminant flow in a subway tunnel
The above images display the results of applying real time particle tracing to the numerical solutions of various fluid flow problems.