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3 Meshing Strategy

CFD uses a series of cells (previously referred to as control volumes), elements and nodes that combined form the so called mesh. It is at each of these node locations, that CFD calculates the fundamental equations of fluid dynamics, as mentioned in the previous section, the shape of the cells greatly impacts the accuracy of the solution due to discretisation errors, therefore the meshing stage is one of the most crucial stages in the problem simulation.

3.1 Mesh types

There are 2 types of meshing predominately used in CFD today, namely: 1. structured meshing; and 2. unstructured meshing.



Figure 3-1 Left section unstructured mesh, right section structured mesh

Structured meshing uses hexagonal shaped elements (12 edges and 8 nodes) while unstructured meshing uses tetrahedron shaped elements (6 edges and 4 nodes). Each method has advantages and disadvantages and it is imperative that the CFD user understands which meshing type is applicable for the given problem.


Figure 3-2 Hexahedral and tetrahedral elements

Mesh generation, in most cases is the timeliest task in the CFD simulation and can be quit challenging to generate a mesh that accurately defines the problem. Two available programs for this study are ANSYS CFX Mesh Generation which generates an unstructured mesh and ANSYS-ICEM CFD which can generate both a structured and unstructured mesh. Both mesh types have their strengths and weakness and are listed in Table 3-1 and Table 3-2.

Table 3-1 Structured; mesh strengths and weaknesses (Quak F.L. 2006)
Structured Mesh Strengths Allows user high degree of control. Mesh can be accurately designed to users requirements Weakness Excessive time spent producing the mesh compared to unstructured mesh

Hexahedral cells are very efficient at filling space, support a high amount of skewness and stretching before affecting solution

Some geometries dont allow structured topology due to the high skewness angles and stretch of cells that are required.

Grid is flow aligned which helps the solver converge

Post-processing is easier due to the logical grid spacing act as excellent reference points for examining the flow field.


Table 3-2 Unstructured; mesh strengths and weaknesses (Quak F.L. 2006)
Unstructured Mesh Strengths Automated mesh. grid generation allows Weakness Lack of user control mesh may not be defined as well as the user may like in certain areas

much less effort by user to define

Well suited to inexperienced users

Tetrahedral elements do not twist or stretch well, which will severely impact accuracy of results.

Will generate a valid mesh for most geometries

Require excellent CAD surfaces. Small mistakes in the geometry can lead to large meshing problems

Users are able to get results for relatively large mesh size quickly

Post processing software requires larger computer power to generate

The aim of this study is to find the most optimum and efficient meshing techniques for underwater vehicles. A preliminary unstructured mesh was created, however the majority of this study is focused on the optimisation of a structured mesh due to its high level of user control which allows for simpler validation. Validation will be done through an iterative process outlined in Figure 3-3 Suboff mesh generation processes (Ackerman 2008) Structured and unstructured meshing are only discussed in this study, an area of future development could be an investigation into the effects of a hybrid mesh, that uses a structured mesh on the critical regions and a unstructured mesh in the less critical regions.


Figure 3-3 Suboff mesh generation processes (Ackerman 2008)

3.2 Geometry
The geometry used in this study was kept the same as that used in the initial study, allowing for direct comparison of results. Ackerman (2008) explains that testing a submarine body requires a large domain for the mesh to be tested in, with little or no effects from the domain


itself. By creating a large domain with a blocking ratio of only 4% (with respect to the hull frontal area), the domain affects have been minimised. Figure 3-4 shows the hemispherical inlet, which is located 6.543m upstream of the bow, the outlet is located 15.246m downstream of the stern end cap, and the far-field boundary is located 6.534m from the hull centreline.

Figure 3-4 Fluid domain and Suboff geometry (Ackerman 2008)

3.3 Structured Meshing

As mentioned previously a structured mesh uses hexahedron shaped elements to create the mesh used to simulate the problem. ANSY-ICEM CFD uses hexahedron blocks that the user manipulates by slicing into a series of smaller blocks.


Figure 3-5 Initial block to be split into sections

Figure 3-6 Blocks split to capture the geometry

Splitting of the blocks allows for the edges of the blocks to be associated to the geometry. The edges are then given parameters and node spacings that define the mesh. The power of ANSYS_ICEM CFD comes from these blocks, as they can be split many times to give the user complete control over the mesh.


Figure 3-7 Edges of blocks that can be associated to the geometry

Figure 3-8 Geometry for association of topology

Associating the vertexes, edges and faces of these blocks to the points, curves and surfaces of the geometry shape the mesh to geometry.


Figure 3-9 Mesh created after association and edge parameters defined

However, difficulty with a structured mesh comes from trying to adapt a hexagon shaped element to a curved or complex shape and can result in a poor quality cells. In chapter 3 it was discussed how the quality of the mesh will greatly affect the results of the simulation, for this reason it is imperative to ensure the mesh quality is sufficient.

3.4 Mesh Quality

The Quality of the mesh is determined by the shape of the individual cells, if the quality of one cell is poor it can cause inaccurate result or convergence failure. Key factors that affect the quality of the cells are skewness, aspect ratio, angles between the adjacent elements of the cells and determinants. ANSY-ICEM provides the following definitions for the above quality parameters: 3.4.1 Skewness

For quad elements, the skew is obtained by first connecting the midpoints of each side with the midpoint of the opposite side, and finding the angle as shown in Figure 3-10 with the smaller of the two angles used so that is less than 180 degrees. The result is usually normalized by dividing by 180 degrees


Figure 3-10 Skew definition (ANSYS ICEM 2009) 3.4.2 Aspect Ratio

The aspect ratio is determined by the size of the minimum element edge divided by the size of the maximum element edge. Thus in Figure 3-11, the aspect ratio is determined by A divided by B

Figure 3-11 Element aspect ratio determination


Minimum Angle

The angle between adjacent elements is found by determining the internal angle deviation from 90 degrees for each element as shown in Figure 3-12. Various solvers have different tolerance limits for the internal angle check. If the elements are distorted and the internal angles are small, the accuracy of the solution will decrease.


Figure 3-12 Minimum angle determination 3.4.4 Determinants

The determinant is found by dividing the smallest determinant of the Jacobian matrix by the largest determinant of the Jacobian matrix at each corner of the hexahedron. A determinant value of unity indicates a perfectly regular mesh element. Zero would indicate that the


element has 1 or more degenerate edges, and a negative determinant indicates an inverted element Table 3-3 of this section shows the recommended values to ensure sufficient mesh quality for CFD simulations


ANSYS CFX quality criteria

Although the previously mentioned quality factors give an indication of the quality of the mesh, various CFD solvers will have differing mesh quality requirements to stability and accuracy; ANSYS CFX has three requirements that must be achieved to minimise discretization errors and ensure convergence and accuracy, i.e. 1. Minimum orthogonality angle > 10 2. Mesh expansion factor < 20 3. Mesh aspect ratio < 100

Significant orthogonality and non-orthogonality are illustrated Figure 3-13 at Ip1 and Ip2, respectively. Orthogonality angle involves the angle between the vector s, that joins two mesh (or control volume) nodes and the normal vector n, for each integration point associated with that edge.

Figure 3-13 Orthognality example (ANSY CFX 2009)

Mesh expansion factor measures the magnitude of the rate of change of the adjacent element areas or volumes. 47

The mesh aspect ratio is determined by dividing the smallest element edge length by the largest, usually they must be less than 100, however it is expected and accepted that mesh aspect ratio within the boundary layer will be of the magnitude 105-106. Table 3-3 shows the ICEM criteria that if achieved usually results in the ANSYS CFX criteria being achieved, and the values for the base mesh used in this study.

Table 3-3 CFX ICEM Criteria to determine acceptable mesh quality for CFX Solver Key Factor Minimum volume Minimum determinant Minimum angle Requirement >0 >0.2 Preferably > 18, definitely > 9 Base mesh Value 1.22 x10-13 0.37 17.28

Negative volumes or determinants indicate an inverted element and ANSYS CFX solver will not run.

3.5 Structured Meshing Topologies

3 basic topologies are used that allow the user to adapt the mesh to most types of geometries to ensure quality meshing is achieved. The author acknowledges Mr. Ronny Widjaja, for his guidance and contribution to this section 3.5.1 2D Topology H mesh mesh C mesh H mesh

Figure 3-14 H type mesh around a cylinder (Widjaja)


H type mesh is the standard meshing method used in ANSY-ICEM CFD. H mesh can achieve good results for a simple geometry, however to maintain accuracy for complex shapes the blocking becomes quit complex. O mesh O type mesh is ideally suited for circular or curved surfaces; Figure 3-15 H mesh to O mesh shows that when an H mesh is used on a circular geometry highly skewed elements exist at angles of 45 around the geometry, an O type mesh removes this skewness. O type meshing is not well suited to wake flows, Figure 3-16 O type mesh around cylindershows that as the O expands to outer edges of the geometry the elements become quite large, and would not accurately capture the wake region of the flow.

Figure 3-15 H mesh to O mesh

Figure 3-16 O type mesh around cylinder (Widjaja)

49 C mesh C mesh is a combination of an H and C grid, it has the benefit of the O grid where it accurately models a curved surface, but also allows for refinement of the mesh in the leeward edge of the geometry. C type meshing is ideally suited for flows where a wake needs to be captured and anything that has a bluff leading edge and small finite to infinite trailing edge such as foils and wings as the mesh reduces to H mesh at these sections allowing for mesh edges to fully capture the geometry of these critical regions. Often when creating a C grid for a foil, a triangular block is created which creates a poor quality mesh, a Quarter O grid or y grid (see Topology creation steps) can be used on triangular blocks to increase mesh quality.

Figure 3-17 C type mesh around cylinder (Widjaja)


3D Topology

When these topologies are used in 3D, they combine to give the following topologies

H-H mesh H-O mesh H-C mesh

O-O mesh O-C mesh C-C mesh


3.6 Topology Used

To successfully mesh a complex shape such as a submarine body, a combination of these topologies need to be used in the associated regions, to ensure the geometry is represented accurately by the mesh. The Suboff geometry can be broken into 3 critical regions where different topologies are used: 1. The fluid domain which is modelled using a O-C mesh 2. The region adjacent to the appendages which is modelled using a H C mesh 3. The Appendages, 2 methods where used 1) H - Quarter O grid and 2) H and combination of a Quarter O grid and an O Grid.


Region 1 - Fluid Domain

The fluid domain is meshed using an O-C type mesh. The O grid (transverse) ensures the bluff leading and trailing edges of the Suboff geometry would be accurately meshed while still capturing the complex leeward flow of the model. Figure 3-18 and Figure 3-19 show the bluff edges of the submarine captured by using an O grid.

O Topology

Figure 3-18 O type mesh in the bow region resulting from the C grid


O Topology

Figure 3-19 O type mesh used in the stern region resulting from the C

The C grid (longitudinal) resolves into a H grid to allow refinement of the mesh to fully capture the effects of the wake.

H Grid

C Grid

Figure 3-20 C grid used for the fluid domain


C Grid

O Grid

Figure 3-21 O-C Topology O grid in the YZ plane and C grid in the XZ plane


Region 2 - Adjacent to the appendages

The area surrounding the appendages is meshed using an H-C mesh; this was done to allow the mesh surrounding the leeward and windward sections of the sail to transition smoothly into the sail, Figure 3-22 shows a H-H mesh that has highly skewed elements in this region, Figure 3-23 shows how a H-C mesh removes these poor quality elements.

Skewed cells

Figure 3-22 H-H mesh used around Suboff sail


Quality cells

Figure 3-23 H-C mesh used around the Sub of sail


Region 3 Appendages

The appendages are a most complex region of the Suboff simulation and thus a large portion of this study is focused on determining the most effective topology for this region. The H-C mesh in the region adjacent to the appendages (see 3.6.2.) improved the mesh in that region but created triangular or degenerate blocks for the appendages. In ICEM CFD, if the angle between any of the two edges of a hexahedral block is equal to or greater than 180 degrees, then that particular block is called a degenerate block (CADFEM 2009). These degenerate blocks cause cells with poor angles at the leading and trailing edges of the appendages.

Figure 3-24 Degenerate block (CADFEM 2009)

The initial study used an H-O topology which removed these poor angles at the leading and trailing edges of the appendages, See Figure 3-25 and Figure 3-27.


Poor cells

Figure 3-25 Poor Cells at the leading and trailing edges of the appendages (Ackerman 2008)

Figure 3-26 Degenerate blocks producing poor quality cells


Figure 3-27 Improved cells dues to H-O topology

Figure 3-28 H-O topology removes poor quality cells

An aim of this study was to find a topology that enhanced the quality of the mesh within this region. Two topologies have evolved from the original H-O topology, both are essentially an H-O topology, but have varying blocking strategies: 1. H grid combined with a Y-grid on the leading and trailing edges of the appendages 2. H grid combined with an O-grid on the leading edge and Y- grid on the trailing edge of the appendages A y grid or commonly known as a quarter o grid is an alternative method (to an O grid) used to eliminate degenerate blocks. y gridding replaces degenerate blocks with 3 regular blocks, refer to the preceding sections for a detailed y grid explanation.


Figure 3-29 Y grid on the leading and trailing edges of the appendages

Figure 3-30 Y topology used on the leading and trailing edges of the appendages

Figure 3-31 O grid on the leading and y grid on the trailing edges of the appendages

Figure 3-32 O and Y topology used on the appendages


Further refinement can be done to the OY topology by removing the block in mid-span of the appendage shown in Figure 3-33, The indicated block creates an unnecessary congestion of elements shown in Figure 3-34, by using a C and y topology as shown in Figure 3-35 ,this block would be removed thus improving the mesh. However as the OT topology yielded accuracy, the CY topology was not created, this is an area of recommend future work.

Figure 3-33 Associated vertices, edges and faces

Unnecessary congestion of elements

Figure 3-34 Mesh with degenerate blocks removed using an O grid fwd and a y grid aft 58

Figure 3-35 Plan view sketch of block edges showing, CY topology (bottom) compared to an OY topology (top)

3.7 Steps to Create Topologies

One of the aims of this project was to record the procedures and blocking techniques developed in ANSY ICEM CFD for the Suboff topology. This will allow future users to apply these steps to not only submarines but for a variety of future projects requiring a structured mesh, such as AUVs and the proposed virtual HPMM. The user manual is setup as a series of chapters that outline the steps required to create the key sub-topologies that when combined form the final Suboff topology, they include; 1. Index Control 2. C grid to create fluid domain and SUBOFF blocks 3. External O grid to create appendages 4. C Grid around appendages 5. Y grid to remove degenerate blocks 6. Internal O grid to remove degenerate blocks

The author emphasises that the user manual is written with the assumption that the user is familiar with the basic procedures for creating geometrys, blocks and generating a mesh in ANSYS-ICEM CFD. It is not designed to be a comprehensive outline of all ANSYS-ICEM CFD techniques rather focused on the key procedures mentioned above.