Published December 23, 2020

2020: THE YEAR of CFD (Computing From a Distance)

Kelly Senecal

Owner and Vice President of Convergent Science

We’ve reached the end of 2020, and I think it’s fair to say this year did not go as planned. The coronavirus pandemic disrupted our lives and brought on unexpected challenges and hardships. However, this difficult time has also highlighted the resiliency of people all around the globe—we have adapted and innovated to meet these challenges head on. At Convergent Science, that meant finding new ways to communicate and collaborate to ensure we could continue to deliver the best possible software and support to our users, all while keeping our employees safe.

Despite the pandemic, we experienced exciting opportunities, advancements, and milestones at Convergent Science this past year. We hosted two virtual conferences, continued to expand into new markets and new application areas, began new collaborations, increased our employee count, and, of course, continued to improve and develop CONVERGE. 

CONVERGE 3.1: A Preview

We have spent much of 2020 developing the next major release of our CONVERGE CFD software: version 3.1. There’s a lot to look forward to in CONVERGE 3.1, which will be released next year. In CONVERGE 3.0, we added the ability to incorporate stationary inlaid meshes into a simulation. In 3.1, these inlaid meshes will be able to move within the underlying Cartesian grid. For example, you will be able to create an inlaid mesh around each of the intake valves in an IC engine simulation, and the mesh will move with the valve as it opens and closes. With this method, you can achieve high grid resolution normal to the valve surface using significantly fewer cells than with traditional fixed embedding. 

Another enhancement will allow you to use different solvers, meshes, physical models, and chemical mechanisms for different streams (i.e., portions of the domain). This means you will be able to tailor your simulation settings to each stream, which will improve solver speed and numerical performance. CONVERGE 3.1 will also feature new sealing capabilities that enable you to have any objects come into contact with one another in your simulation or have objects enter or leave your simulation. 

Furthermore, CONVERGE 3.1 will support solid- and gas-phase parcels in addition to the traditional liquid-phase parcels. This can be useful when modeling, for example, soot or injectors operating at flash-boiling conditions. CONVERGE 3.1 will also feature an improved steady-state solver that will provide significant improvements in speed, and we have enhanced our fluid-structure interaction, volume of fluid, combustion, and emissions modeling capabilities. There are many more exciting features and enhancements coming in 3.1, so stay tuned for more information!

Pursuing High-Performance Computing with Oracle

Improving the scalability of CONVERGE continues to be a strong focus of our development efforts. We work with several companies and institutions, testing CONVERGE on different high-performance computing (HPC) architectures and optimizing our software to ensure good scaling. To that end, we were thrilled to begin a new collaboration this year with Oracle, a leader in cloud computing and enterprise software. In our benchmark testing, we have seen near perfect scaling of CONVERGE on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure on thousands of cores. This collaboration presents a great opportunity for CONVERGE users to take advantage of Oracle’s advanced HPC resources to efficiently run large-scale simulations in the cloud. 

Best Use of HPC in Industry

For the second year in a row, we were honored to win an HPCwire award for research performed with our colleagues at Aramco Research Center–Detroit and Argonne National Laboratory. This year, we received the HPCwire Readers’ Choice Award for Best Use of HPC in Industry for our work using HPC and machine learning to accelerate injector design optimization for next-generation high-efficiency, low-emissions engines. Our collaborative work is forging the way to leverage HPC, novel experimental measurements, and CFD to perform rapid optimization studies and reduce our carbon footprint from transportation.

Computational Chemistry Consortium

In another collaborative effort, the Computational Chemistry Consortium (C3) made significant progress in 2020. Co-founded by Convergent Science, C3 is working to create the most accurate and comprehensive chemical reaction mechanism for automotive fuels that includes NOx and PAH chemistry to model emissions. The first version of the mechanism was completed last year and is currently available to C3’s industry sponsors. Once the mechanism is published, it will be released to the public on This past year, C3 has continued to refine the mechanism, which has now reached version 2.1. The results of these efforts have been rewarding—we’ve seen a significant decrease in error in selected validation cases. The next year of the consortium will focus on increasing the accuracy of the NOx and PAH chemistry. To that end, C3 welcomed a new member this year, Dr. Stephen Klippenstein from Argonne National Laboratory. Dr. Klippenstein will perform high-level ab initio calculations of rate constants in NOx chemistry. Ultimately, the C3 mechanism is expected to be the first publicly available mechanism that includes everything from hydrogen chemistry all the way up to PAH chemistry in a single high-fidelity mechanism.

Driving Mobility Forward

In 2020, we celebrated our 10-year anniversary of collaboration with Argonne National Laboratory. Over the past decade, this collaboration has helped us extend CONVERGE’s capabilities and broach new application areas. We have performed cutting-edge research in the transportation field, developing new methods and models that are proving to be instrumental in designing the next generation of engines. In the aerospace field, we’ve broken ground in applying CFD to gas turbines, rotating detonation engines, drones, and more. We’ve made great strides in the last ten years, and we’re looking forward to the next decade of collaboration!

Bringing CONVERGE Online

Every year, we look forward to getting together with our users, discussing the latest exciting CONVERGE research and having some fun at our user conferences. When the pandemic struck and countries began locking down earlier this year, we were determined to still hold our 2020 CONVERGE User Conference–Europe, even if it looked a bit different. Our conference was scheduled for the end of March, so we didn’t have much time to transition from an in-person to an online event, but our team was up for the challenge. In less than three weeks, we planned a whole new event and successfully held one of the first pandemic-era virtual conferences. We were so pleased with the result! More than 400 attendees from around the world tuned in for an excellent lineup of technical presentations, which spanned topics from IC engines to compressors to electric motors and battery packs. 

While we hoped to hold our North American user conference in Detroit later in the year, the continued pandemic made that impossible. Once again, we took to the internet. We incorporated some more networking opportunities, including various social groups and discussion topics, and created some fun polls to help attendees get to know one another. We were also able to offer our usual slate of conference-week CONVERGE training and virtual exhibit booths for our sponsors. The presentations at this conference showcased the breadth and diversity of applications for which CONVERGE is suited, with speakers discussing rockets, gas turbines, exhaust aftertreatment, biomedical applications, renewable energy, and electromobility in addition to a host of IC engine-related topics.

It’s hard to know what 2021 will look like, but rest assured we will be hosting more conferences, virtual or otherwise. We’re looking forward to the day we can get together in person once again!

CONVERGE Around the World

Even with the pandemic, 2020 was an exciting and productive year for Convergent Science around the globe. We gained nearly a dozen new employees, including bringing on team members in newly created roles to help expand our relationships with universities and to increase our in-house CAD design capabilities. We also continued to find new markets for CONVERGE as we entered the emobility, rocket, and burner industries. 

Our Indian office flourished in 2020. Since its creation three years ago, Convergent Science India has grown to more than 20 employees, adding nine new team members this year alone. To accommodate our growing team, we moved to a spacious new building in Pune. Our team in India expanded our global reach, bringing new academic and industry clients on board. In addition, we continued to work on growing our presence in new applications such as gas turbines, aftertreatment, motor cooling, battery failure, oil churning, and spray painting.

In Europe, despite the challenging circumstances, we increased our client base and our license sales considerably, and we were able to successfully and seamlessly support our customers to help them achieve their CFD goals. In addition to moving our European CONVERGE user conference online in record time, we attended and exhibited at many virtual tradeshows and events and are looking forward to attending in-person conferences as soon as it is safe to do so.

Our partners at IDAJ continued to do excellent work supporting our customers in Japan, China, and Korea. Due to the pandemic, they held their first-ever IDAJ Conference Online 2020, where they had both live lectures and Q&A sessions as well as on-demand streaming content. While they support many IC engine clients, they are also supporting clients working on other applications such as motor cooling, battery failure, oil churning, and spray painting.

Looking Ahead

2020 was a difficult year for many of us, but I am impressed and inspired by the way the CFD community and beyond has come together to make the most of a challenging situation. And the future looks bright! We’re looking forward to releasing CONVERGE 3.1 and helping our users take advantage of the increased functionality and new features that will be available. We’re excited to expand our presence in electromobility, renewable energy, aerospace, and other new fields. In the upcoming year, we look forward to forming new collaborations and strengthening existing partnerships to promote innovation and keep CONVERGE on the cutting-edge of CFD software.

Can we help you meet your 2021 CFD goals? Contact us today!

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