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December SDRD Highlight: Computational Fluid Dynamic Simulations for Critical Infrastructure

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Principal Investigator Sean Breckling and new scientist Clifford Watkins are developing novel tools to simulate computational fluid dynamics (CFD) in incompressible regimes common to heating, ventilation, and air cooling (HVAC) systems located in office workspaces, public transit, and other critical infrastructures.

This SDRD project is fostering a young team capable of performing fluids modelling well beyond what has been available in-house in recent years. In fiscal year 2022 alone, this team has contributed key models and computations to three other SDRD projects and has collaborated with lab partners on direct funding proposals for science scope not before undertaken by the NNSS.

Among the new tools being developed is a prototype digital twin of the internal fluid dynamics of a large, highly ventilated workspace. Historically, a well-resolved large-scale 3D simulation in these settings would require a substantial amount of computing. However, through a confluence of techniques (Large Eddy Simulation, Data Assimilation, and Reduced Order Modelling), Sean and Cliff stand to potentially reduce the computational complexity to one that is edge computable. Such a capability would be a boon to new remote sensing testbeds.

Diagram created to simulate CFD in an HVAC system inside of a train car.