Unraveling the Secrets of Viscous Fluids: Harnessing the Power of Research Computing

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In this case study, we hear from Roberto Hart-Villamil (EngD student in Chemical Engineering), who has been making use of BlueBEAR to enable his research into temperature sensitivity and how it affects everyday products.

Roberto Hart-Villamil (EngD Formulation Eng FT)

Ever packed your favourite cream for a vacation in a tropical paradise, only to discover it’s turned into an unrecognizable goo? You’re not alone! Temperature sensitivity affects many everyday products, posing challenges for engineers and manufacturers. But fear not, research computing is here to save the day! In this blog post, we’ll dive into the fascinating world of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and explore how cutting-edge simulations are revolutionizing product design for different climates.

Mixing It Up with CFD
Our quest for consistency begins with understanding how viscous fluids like soaps behave under various process conditions. By using CFD simulations, researchers can get a detailed look at fluid dynamics, predict mixing performance, and identify potential improvements in agitation, power consumption, and mixing time. Ultimately, this leads to a more consistent product that delights consumers worldwide, regardless of their location.

Powering Simulations with BlueBEAR HPC
When it comes to running these complex, computationally intensive simulations, our trusty laptops just don’t cut it. Enter the BlueBEAR High Performance Computing (HPC) at the University. With its impressive computational power, parallel processing, and expansive storage capacities, BlueBEAR is the perfect partner for tackling the gargantuan task of simulating fluid dynamics.

a Volume of Fluid CFD simulation of glycerol with a passive scalar transport model in a ploughshare mixer

Automating CFD Model Calibration
To make the most of BlueBEAR’s capabilities, we designed a workflow that utilizes Acces, an evolutionary optimizer, to automatically calibrate the CFD models. With the help of a slurm wrapper, Python communicates with the slurm job scheduler, sending off batch simulations without human intervention. Comparing these simulations to real experiments, an error function guides Acces to generate new parallel simulation conditions. The process repeats until the model is calibrated and ready for action.

Accelerating Research with Research Computing
By harnessing the power of BlueBEAR and automating simulations, we’re able to speed up the research process significantly. What once took two months on a laptop now takes just a week using BlueBEAR’s advanced capabilities. That’s the power of research computing!

BlueBEAR is the perfect partner for tackling the gargantuan task of simulating fluid dynamics

As we continue to explore the fascinating world of viscous fluids and their temperature-sensitive behaviour, research computing stands as an invaluable tool for scientists and engineers. With powerful tools like BlueBEAR HPC and automated workflows, we’re breaking down barriers and paving the way for consistent, reliable products that consumers can enjoy, no matter where their adventures take them.

If you’re interested in using CFD in your research, have a look at the seminar series that the CFD Special Interest Group is running: https://blog.bham.ac.uk/bear/2023/03/24/computational-fluid-dynamics-cfd-special-interest-group-rebooted/

We were so pleased to hear of how Roberto is able to make use of what is on offer from Advanced Research Computing, particularly to hear of how he has made use of multiple cores on BlueBEAR HPC– if you have any examples of how it has helped your research then do get in contact with us at bearinfo@contacts.bham.ac.uk. We are always looking for good examples of use of High Performance Computing to nominate for HPC Wire Awards – see our recent winners for more details.