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Computational Fluid Dynamics for Aerospace Applications

  • Module code: AE7724
  • Year: 2018/9
  • Level: 7
  • Credits: 30
  • Pre-requisites: AE6020
  • Co-requisites: None


This module is designed for students in aerospace engineering and allied subject areas that have a prior exposure to relevant computational techniques and advanced mathematics. It intends to extend your knowledge and skills beyond the basic fluid mechanics methods, normally introduced at early undergraduate level, and to provide a theoretical and practical introduction to computational fluid dynamics (CFD). In the practical sessions, emphasis is placed on the solution of fluids problems in a realistic aerospace engineering context and on giving you the opportunity to develop awareness of the limitations of CFD software and to develop an understanding of good practice in your applications. The software used for this module is ANSYS ICEM/CFX/Fluent.

The module is also designed to provide you with advanced computational skills in fluid dynamics hence enhancing your employment potential in aerospace, automotive, energy and other similar industries. Additional support materials including excerpts from core texts will be available through Canvas.
This module consists of two week long block sessions, the lecture programme forms the first block (and is delivered by the mechanical department). The second week consists of additional tutorials, workshops and where possible guest lectures.


  • To equip students with the knowledge base essential for application of computational fluid dynamics to engineering flow problems.
  • To provide the essential numerical background for solving the partial differential equations governing the fluid flow.
  • To develop students' skills of using a commercial software package

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, students will be able to:

  1. Understand the solution of aerodynamic flows. Appraise & compare current CFD software.
  2. Define and setup flow problem properly within CFD context, performing solid modelling using CAD package and producing grids via meshing tool.
  3. Understand both flow physics and mathematical properties of governing Navier-Stokes equations and define proper boundary conditions for solution.
  4. Present CFD results to a non-technical audience
  5. Use CFD software to model relevant engineering flow problems and analyse the CFD results. Compare with available data, and discuss the findings.

Curriculum content

  • Fluid mechanics and thermodynamic principles
  • Governing equations/ Navier Stoke equations
  • Numerical schemes and discretization methods
  • Turbulence modelling
  • Large eddy simulations
  • Domain meshing

Teaching and learning strategy

The learning outcomes will be achieved through a combination of formal lectures, tutorials, seminars and independent study. The scheduled learning time is normally delivered as two one week blocks. The first week is primarily lecture based and considers the theoretical background of computational fluid dynamics. The second week is hands on application of the techniques using commercially available software. The hands on sessions follow a structured pattern of tutorials with students working at their own pace with support from academics and teaching assistants. The typical delivery pattern is outlined in the table below:

Formal lectures and classes, covering
Formal lectures undertaken in one week block
Lecture programme (Mon - Fri 9.00 to 5.00)
Problem solving based tutorials
Further tutorials and hands on - this occurs in the second teaching week
 Tutorial programme
(Mon - Fri 10.00 to 5.00)
Guest lectures providing industrial context
Guest lecture and workshop (further feedback and practical applications - lessons learned). These take place in the tutorial week.
Guest lecture and workshop 4 hours.
Independent study driven by assignments Assignments covering the application of CFD to aerospace problems Three assignments which are used to apply the CFD knowledge gained during the course

Breakdown of Teaching and Learning Hours

Definitive UNISTATS Category Indicative Description Hours
Scheduled learning and teaching Approx. 60 hours of formal lectures and seminars Supplemented by approx. 10 hours of tutorials and briefings. 70
Guided independent study This consists of background and further reading Assignments 230
Total (number of credits x 10) 300

Assessment strategy

The module consists of three assignments (all are individual).  These are all applications based.  These assignments enable the students to demonstrate their understanding of CFD and their ability to apply it. Two of the assignments are technical reports typical of industrial settings and the third is a conference type paper.

Formative assessment will be provided in the form of regular and concise feedback on set tasks.

Mapping of Learning Outcomes to Assessment Strategy (Indicative)

Learning Outcome Assessment Strategy
1) Understand solution of aerodynamic flows. Appraise and compare current CFD software. Coursework 1 & 2: Initial grid generation and example results, validation
2) Define and setup flow problem properly within CFD context, performing solid modelling using CAD package and producing grids via meshing tool. Coursework 1 & 2: analytical methods, Validation of CFD results
3) Understand both flow physics and mathematical properties of governing Navier-Stokes equations and define proper boundary conditions for solution. Coursework 1 & 2: Validation of CFD results
4) Present CFD results to a non-technical audience Coursework 3 – conference paper

Elements of Assessment

Description of Assessment Definitive UNISTATS Categories Percentage
Initial meshing and modelling and basic CFD simulation (1200 words) Coursework 30%
Two-dimensional group case studies of aerofoils (2000 words) Coursework 30%
Three-dimensional CFD modelling and simulation (includes turbulence model study). (3000 words) Coursework 40%
Total (to equal 100%) 100%

Achieving a pass

It IS NOT a requirement that any element of assessment is passed separately in order to achieve an overall pass for the module.

Bibliography core texts

  • HK Versteeg and W Malalasekera 'An introduction to computational fluid dynamics: the finite volume method', Pearson Education, ISBN: 0582218845
  • JD Anderson 'Computational Fluid Dynamics: the basics and applications', McGraw-Hill Education, ISBN: 0071132104
  • ANSYS Manuals for CFX, Fluent and ICEM

Bibliography recommended reading

  • JD Anderson 'Fundamentals of Aerodynamics' McGraw-Hill Education, ISBN 0-07-100767-9.

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