Computational fluid dynamics is a branch of fluid mechanics that uses numerical analysis and data structures to solve and analyze problems that involve fluid flows. Computers are used to perform the required to simulate the interaction of liquids. With high-speed supercomputers, better solutions can be achieved, ongoing research yields software that improves the accuracy and speed of complex simulation scenarios such as transonic or turbulent flows. Initial experimental validation of such software is performed using a tunnel with the final validation coming in full-scale testing. The fundamental basis of almost all CFD problems is the Navier–Stokes equations and these equations can be simplified by removing terms describing viscous actions to yield the Euler equations. Further simplification, by removing terms describing vorticity yields the full potential equations, finally, for small perturbations in subsonic and supersonic flows these equations can be linearized to yield the linearized potential equations. Historically, methods were first developed to solve the potential equations. Two-dimensional methods, using conformal transformations of the flow about a cylinder to the flow about an airfoil were developed in the 1930s. One of the earliest type of calculations resembling modern CFD are those by Lewis Fry Richardson, in the sense that these calculations used finite differences and divided the physical space in cells. Although they failed dramatically, these calculations, together with Richardsons book Weather prediction by numerical process, set the basis for modern CFD, in fact, early CFD calculations during the 1940s using ENIAC used methods close to those in Richardsons 1922 book. The computer power available paced development of three-dimensional methods, probably the first work using computers to model fluid flow, as governed by the Navier-Stokes equations, was performed at Los Alamos National Lab, in the T3 group. This group was led by Francis H. Harlow, who is considered as one of the pioneers of CFD. Fromms vorticity-stream-function method for 2D, transient, incompressible flow was the first treatment of strongly contorting incompressible flows in the world, the first paper with three-dimensional model was published by John Hess and A. M. O. Smith of Douglas Aircraft in 1967 and this method discretized the surface of the geometry with panels, giving rise to this class of programs being called Panel Methods. Their method itself was simplified, in that it did not include lifting flows and hence was mainly applied to ship hulls, the first lifting Panel Code was described in a paper written by Paul Rubbert and Gary Saaris of Boeing Aircraft in 1968. In time, more advanced three-dimensional Panel Codes were developed at Boeing, Lockheed, Douglas, McDonnell Aircraft, NASA, some were higher order codes, using higher order distributions of surface singularities, while others used single singularities on each surface panel. The advantage of the lower order codes was that they ran much faster on the computers of the time, today, VSAERO has grown to be a multi-order code and is the most widely used program of this class. It has been used in the development of submarines, surface ships, automobiles, helicopters, aircraft
A computer simulation of high velocity air flow around the Space Shuttle during re-entry.
A simulation of the Hyper-X scramjet vehicle in operation at Mach-7
Volume rendering of a non-premixed swirl flame as simulated by LES.