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Publication Date


Document Type

Honors Project




Flow visualization, Fluids, Computational fluid dynamics, Computer simulation, Computational modeling


Fluid flow affects everyday life in applications such as airplanes, cars, and pipe flow. However, the path of the flow is not easily seen. In order to fully understand the flow behavior, scientists and engineers use various flow visualization techniques. While there are two main types of flow visualization, this paper explores the computational approach rather than the experimental approach. The use of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to visualize fluid flow has become popular as a low cost option when compared to physical prototyping, particularly if test facilities are not readily available. CFD is a useful first step to gain a basic understanding of how the flow will behave in order to make preliminary design changes before the expensive physical prototyping and testing stage. While CFD packages have a wide range of output values, one of most useful is visual data that is crucial to communicate the results to technical and non-technical personnel for product development and marketing. There are several CFD packages available commercially or as open source software packages that produce flow visualizations using different simplifying assumptions. This project was conducted in conjunction with a senior capstone group project to integrate a low-flow technology with the existing vortex flowmeter for Schneider Electric. The vortex flowmeter works by relating the velocity to the frequency of vortex shedding from a shedder bar placed within a pipe. The varying outputs of each software program were compared with the initial goal of producing the best visual representation, or combination of visuals, to portray vortex shedding. However, the inaccuracies and limitations of the software packages were prevalent and this report focuses on a comparison of their mathematical basis in order to understand the visual outputs.




ii, 37 pages : color illustrations. Honors project-Smith College, 2015. Includes bibliographical references (pages 21-22)