Computing Simulation in Combustion Processes

For centuries, humanity has relied on the combustion of fossil fuels to meet its energy needs. While this has allowed us to make significant progress, it has also negatively impacted our planet. The transition to cleaner energy is not only crucial for the environment, but it is also essential for the health and well-being of future generations. Therefore, while transitioning to cleaner energy sources, it is important that we also focus on optimizing current energy devices and traditional operations to minimize these damaging effects.

Engineering Techniques for Improving Combustion Systems

While the word “combustion” may be associated with environmental pollution, it’s important to remember that it is merely a process that allows the energy stored in a fuel to be used in various applications such as transportation, heating, electric power generation, metallurgy, and more.

Pollution generated by combustion depends on the elements involved in the chemical reaction. Fuels like methane, propane, or acetylene produce high levels of pollutants, while the combustion of hydrogen emits zero CO2 emissions. Thus, the type of fuel used significantly influences the amount and type of pollutants emitted. Other factors that impact combustion efficiency include control devices and operating conditions.

For this, engineers must understand all the involved parameters to mitigate the environmental impact and optimize the energy efficiency of combustion systems. Extensive research work, including experimental analysis, numerical simulations, and mathematical modeling, is required to achieve these goals.

Engineers use experimentation to measure the influence of external factors and gather large data sets for comparisons and assessments of other studies. Additionally, engineers invest long hours developing new mathematical models that simplify and solve complex problems to better understand the combustion processes and improve energy efficiency. And especially in the last decade, computer simulation has gained greater acceptance as it enhances the investigative and detailed analysis capabilities.

Role of Computer Simulation 

Computer simulation is the process of using Computer-Aided Engineering (CAE) software to solve mathematical equations to determine the impact of an engineering scenario. This technique is particularly useful for solving complex problems without analytical solutions. In many cases, computer simulation is a fundamental tool to evaluate and optimize the behavior of a system before implementing it in the real world. The execution of a simulation depends mainly on the fundamental characteristics of the problem to be addressed, such as dimensioning, the influence of heat or mass transfer, phase change, and complex physical phenomena such as turbulence and thermal radiation.

Computer simulations have become an increasingly popular tool in various industries, particularly in the field of fluids and energy transfer. Among the most commonly used tools for these simulations is the Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) software, with Ansys Fluent and COMSOL Multiphysics leading the market. The scientific community endorses these industry-leading programs for their advanced physical modeling capabilities and the accuracy of the results.

The cost of conducting a CFD simulation can be influenced by various factors, such as the computational cost, the amount of “man-hours” needed, the mesh size utilized for modeling the physical system, and the complexity of the problem being solved. Simulations demanding fewer computing resources may not result in significant charges, but more intricate simulations may require a considerable amount of computer time, making them much more expensive. For example, a detailed simulation of a flame having a size smaller than 1 ft can necessitate between 2 to 48 hours of processing time to reach a solution. Therefore, it is important to consider the complexity and scope of your simulation carefully in order to minimize costs and ensure the most accurate results possible.

CFD Simulation Trends

Numerical computing, since its invention, has been utilized for performing large volumes of calculations. It took several decades to reach the computational capacity that we know today. Over time, challenges such as ambiguity of model results, hardware limitations, and software accessibility had to be overcome to achieve this.

Today, all the issues have been addressed, leading to the emergence of numerous companies worldwide that provide CFD software services. Even open-source options such as OpenFOAM have been proposed. However, modern software providers are now focusing on improving user accessibility, which is why they include:

  • Graphical User Interface for easier geometry and modeling setup;
  • User guide and technical documentation;
  • Technical support and regular software updates;
  • 3D graphics generated from user-selected data;
  • Analysis of result accuracy levels, and
  • Subscription options for Software as a Service (SaaS) model.

Finally, as technology advances, these software solutions also evolve. The popularization of web and mobile applications, the advent of 5G technology, and artificial intelligence have led to new ways of providing simulation solutions, such as remote solutions where processing is done on centralized platforms.

Next-Generation Simulation Technology

Simulation software for combustion is an essential tool for engineers in many industries. However, it is important to note that using this kind of software effectively requires high technical knowledge and confidence in decision-making. Some of the challenges associated with using this software include:

Deep Understanding

Professionals from various fields can use the results obtained by simulation software for their projects. However, interpreting the results may require a deep understanding of the underlying principles or the support of a professional with relevant expertise.


The engineers aim to enhance the quality of results while reducing the consumption of computational resources.


The use of computational resources increases exponentially with the mesh size and the problem’s complexity.


As software becomes more sophisticated, it should also be designed to be intuitive and user-friendly, even for simple case simulations.


The integration of new features and technologies that enable the automated optimization of repetitive simulation tasks.

In response to these challenges, new approaches to a more specialized simulation service are emerging. It means that solutions for specific engineering problems are built to help users and provide quick and cost-effective information with minimal impact on the accuracy of the results.

Overall, the emergence of more specialized simulation services is an exciting development in the field of simulation technology. As companies continue to face increasingly complex engineering challenges, new services are offered every day in a cost-effective and efficient manner.

Visit this article to get more information about simulation and technology trends and how they are helping engineers to tackle technical challenges.

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