The European project Cloudflow had as an objective to develop a cloud-computing platform, from which small and medium companies can offer advanced engineering services such as CAM (Computer-Aided Manufacturing) or CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics). This European project is part of the I4MS initiative (ICT Innovation for Manufacturing SMEs) launched by the European Commission in 2013. I4MS identifies four main sectors for the digital transformation of the companies: cloud services and simulation, laser technologies, industrial robotics and cyber physical systems.
Cloudflow, besides providing the cloud-based platform, required a series of experiments to prove the functionality and viability of such platform. nablaDot lead one of those experiments together with the SME Biocurve S.L. and BIFI, Institute for Biocomputation and Physics of Complex Systems, which belongs to the University of Zaragoza.
This experiment consisted in adding fluid simulation to the heat exchanger design cycle of the Biocurve boilers. This Spanish SME manufactures biomass condensing boilers, where their patented heat exchanger is one of the main parts of these boilers.
For Biocurve it was unfeasible to incorporate the CFD to its design cycles due to the requirements of this technology. During the project, nablaDot, with the colaboration of the BIFI, adapted the open-source software OpenFOAM for the simulation of Biocurve’s heat exchanger and integrated the package in the Cloudflow cloud-based platform. Besides, the simulation process (mesh generation, mathematical models selection, setting up the boundary conditions, calculation and results post-process) was automatized, easing the use of the CFD tool, finally training Biocurve staff.
As a result, currently Biocurve staff prepare the heat exchanger geometry with CAD software, access the web application developed for them, introduce the operation data and the geometry file and simply execute the process. At the end of the calculation, Biocurve receives a report, automatically generated, with the results of the simulation. Thus, Biocruve, a small company with just desktop computers and using standard CAD software has been able to incorporate CFD technology (essentially intensive in the use of computational resources) to its design cycles.
The experiment has been a success, as shown in the Cloudflow webpage (Optimizing heat exchanger design of biomass boilers through CFD), where seven success stories have been selected out of 20 experiments executed in the whole project, as well as in the video included at the end of this post, where Cloudflow is briefly described with three of the main success stories (you can see ours around minute 2:30).
Thanks to the experiment, Biocurve has managed to reduce 30% the size of the heat exchanger for its 25 kWth boiler; moreover, the time to develop a new boiler to market is estimated to be reduced from 1 year to 8 months. Due to the time and the number of prototypes reduction in a design cycle, they will save around 23,000 € in each cycle, thanks to the CFD tool. In this link you can find more details regarding the technical and economical impacts obtained with the project.
Many companies find themselves in the position of Biocurve before participating in Cloudflow together with nablaDot. Adding CFD to your company is possible. Do not hesitate to contact us and we will study the way to make it possible.