Challenges in the accurate numerical simulation of practical thermal processes and systems

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations


Purpose - The numerical simulation of practical thermal processes is generally complicated because of multiple transport mechanisms and complex phenomena that commonly arise. In addition, the materials encountered are often not easily characterized and typically involve large property changes over the ranges of interest. The boundary conditions may not be properly defined and or may be unknown. However, it is important to obtain accurate and dependable numerical results from the simulation in order to study, design, and optimize most practical thermal processes of current and future interest. The purpose of this paper is to focus on the main challenges that are encountered in obtaining accurate numerical simulation results on practical thermal processes and systems. Design/methodology/approach - A wide range of thermal systems is considered and the challenges faced in the numerical simulation are outlined. The methods that may be used to meet these challenges are presented in terms of grid, solution strategies, multiscale modeling and combined mechanisms. The models employed must be validated and the accuracy of the simulation results established if the simulation is to form the basis for improving existing systems and developing new ones. Findings - Of particular interest are concerns like verification and validation, imposition of appropriate boundary conditions, and modelling of complex, multimode transport phenomena in multiple scales. Additional effects such as viscous dissipation, surface tension, buoyancy and rarefaction that could arise and complicate the modelling are discussed. Uncertainties that arise in material properties and in boundary conditions are also important in design and optimization. Large variations in the geometry and coupled multiple regions are also discussed. Research limitations/implications - The paper is largely focused on numerical modeling and simulation. Experimental data are considered mainly for validation and for physical insight. Practical implications - A wide variety of practical systems, ranging from materials processing to energy, cooling, and transportation is considered. Originality/value - Future needs in this interesting and challenging area are also outlined in the paper.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)158-175
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Numerical Methods for Heat and Fluid Flow
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics


  • Accuracy
  • Challenges
  • Numerical methods
  • Numerical simulation
  • Simulation
  • Thermal processes
  • Thermal systems

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