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Simulation of Thermofluids with Open Source Tools

Module MW1277

This Module is offered by Associate Professorship of Thermo-Fluid Dynamics (Prof. Polifke).

This module handbook serves to describe contents, learning outcome, methods and examination type as well as linking to current dates for courses and module examination in the respective sections.

Module version of WS 2011/2

There are historic module descriptions of this module. A module description is valid until replaced by a newer one.

Whether the module’s courses are offered during a specific semester is listed in the section Courses, Learning and Teaching Methods and Literature below.

available module versions
SS 2012WS 2011/2

Basic Information

MW1277 is a semester module in English language at Bachelor’s level which is offered every semester.

This Module is included in the following catalogues within the study programs in physics.

  • Further Modules from Other Disciplines
Total workloadContact hoursCredits (ECTS)
120 h 20 h 4 CP

Content, Learning Outcome and Preconditions


Nowadays the use of open source software is increasing, because it fulfills performance and quality requirements of academia and industry at lower costs than commercial solutions. For computational (thermo-)fluid dynamics (CFD) very popular open source software package is OpenFOAM®. This package is based on object-oriented programming language, C++, allowing a great flexibility and extensibility of the code that ease its adaptation to a wide range of problems. However, the freedom and the flexibility have a cost: learning the tool is challenging. Consequently, the main objective of the course is to guide the participants towards using and customizing OpenFOAM® with the motto “learning by doing”.
The class is divided into 9 sessions/weeks.
(1) Introduction to Linux and OpenFOAM®.
After a short review of the Linux tools needed to interact with OpenFOAM®, the way to express a CFD problem will be reviewed. Then a first case will be run and post-processed.
(2) Heat transfer in a plate.
The structure of a solver for heat transfer in solid material will be presented. This solver will be applied to a 2D planar configuration.
(3) Heat transfer in a cooler.
The previous solver will be modified to analyze a defective cooler.
(4) Channel pipe flow.
This case will be the first fluid dynamics problem studied. A laminar flow in a pipe will be simulated.
(5) Locally heated channel pipe flow.
The elements of the two previous exercises will be combined to create a new solver for a thermo-fluids problem at low Reynolds number.
(6) RANS solver for turbulent flows.
Different models for the turbulence will be applied to a backward step configuration.
(7) Combustion.
The different approaches to simulate a reacting flow in OpenFOAM® will be introduced.
(8) Multiphase flow solver.
The volume of fluid method (VoF) will be introduced as a solution to solve two incompressible, isothermal immiscible fluids. As those configurations require lots of resources, the case will be solved in parallel (i.e. using more than 1 processor) on our cluster. In addition the creation of a new boundary conditions will be introduced.
(9) Lagrangian solver.
The usual way to solve continuous fields (e.g. pressure or energy) is to use an Eulerian approach. But for the discrete phases (e.g. a spray of fuel in gas) the Lagrangian approach is more interesting. In this chapter, a Langragian solver of OpenFOAM® will be presented. A new model for the injection of the particles will be implemented and applied to the test case.

Students have the opportunity to attend a Teamworkshop and a Presentation coaching session in small groups provided by ZSK (Zentrum für Schlüsselkompetenzen).

Learning Outcome

Upon completion of the course, students are able to:
- Solve a wide range of CFD problems using OpenFOAM® (heat transfer, incompressible/compressible flows, turbulent flows, multiphase flows, combustion, dispersed flows).
- Use ParaView to visualize the results from OpenFOAM®.
- Understand the code structure of OpenFOAM® and know the procedures to compile solvers and utilities.
- Identify the proper solver for a specific CFD case.
- Methodologically set up a wide variety of CFD cases.
- Critically assess their own simulation results.
- Create particular solvers and utilities in OpenFOAM®.


Basic numerics, turbulent flows, fluid mechanics, heat transfer, combustion, multiphase flow, programming language (preferable C++), Linux-based OS

Courses, Learning and Teaching Methods and Literature

Courses and Schedule

PR 4 Simulation of Thermofluids with Open Source Tools Eder, A.
Responsible/Coordination: Polifke, W.
Wed, 11:00–12:00, MW 1701
Wed, 12:00–16:00, MW 0704
Wed, 11:00–12:00, MW 1701
Wed, 12:00–16:00, MW 0704
and singular or moved dates

Learning and Teaching Methods

Vor der nächsten Unterrichtsstunde wird das Skriptum zum nächsten Termin ausgegeben. Es soll von den Teilnehmern selbsständig vorbereitet werden.ImVorlesungsteil werden die angewendeten Methoden kurz durchgesprochen und die Studenten auf die Problematischen Teile hingewiesen. Diese werden ausführlich bearbeitet. Danach wird, durch den Betreuer und einen Tutor unterstützt in Zweiergruppen das Problem praktisch am Rechner gelöst.


Presentations, exercise script


Polifke und Kopitz, Wärmetransport, 2.Auflage, Pearson-Verlag, 2009; Incropera et al., Heat and Mass Transfer, 6.Auflage, John Wiley & Sons, 2007; Press et al. Numerical Recipes 3rd Edition;

Module Exam

Description of exams and course work

Weekly exercises are assessed by means of small reports. In addition, projects are worked on in groups of two. The grades for this project will be assessed by means of a report and a presentation (15 min.).

Exam Repetition

There is a possibility to take the exam in the following semester.

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