Published December 21, 2023

2023: Advancing Sustainability Through CFD

Kelly Senecal

Owner and Vice President of Convergent Science

One of the most rewarding aspects of owning Convergent Science is watching the company grow and evolve as our team embraces new challenges and opportunities. At the end of each year, I like to take a moment to look back and really appreciate all of the exciting developments and milestones of the past year. 2023 brought with it many “firsts”, as we began new collaborations and partnerships, launched new products and programs, and implemented new features in CONVERGE. We traveled to trade shows around the world, hosted a variety of CONVERGE events, and continued to forge ahead into new markets. We also made sure to have some fun along the way, holding ping pong and pool tournaments, participating in carrom and badminton championships, discovering our coworkers’ hidden talents with chili cook-offs and baking contests, and enjoying the Halloween season with spooky decorations, scary food spreads, and office trick-or-treating. And of course, throughout the year, we worked to provide the best possible support to our clients as we took on challenging CFD problems together.

Progress Through Collaboration

2023 saw the beginning of many exciting new partnerships and collaborations. Early in the year, we announced a new partnership with Red Bull Ford Powertrains, which was founded in 2021 to develop new power units for Red Bull’s F1 teams. Red Bull Ford Powertrains selected CONVERGE as their CFD software of choice to help design their new power unit, which will run on 100% sustainable fuel and debut in the 2026 season.

In the freight sector, we kicked off a new collaboration with Wabtec, Argonne National Laboratory, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The four-year project is focused on establishing the viability of hydrogen and other low- and no-carbon fuels for locomotive engines. A Wabtec single-cylinder, dual-fuel locomotive engine was installed at Oak Ridge, where they will conduct experimental tests with low-life-cycle carbon fuels. We have been busy working with Argonne to establish best practices for simulating the engine in CONVERGE, starting with natural gas/diesel dual-fuel scenarios and moving on to hydrogen studies. Keep an eye out for more updates on this collaboration as it moves forward!

Hugging a Wabtec cutaway engine at the ICE Forward 2023 conference.

Another project that began this year involves a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) between Convergent Science, Caterpillar, and Argonne National Laboratory. This collaborative effort aims to develop predictive computational capabilities for the analysis and design of advanced internal combustion engines for off-road applications. The focus of the project is on engine combustion using zero-carbon (hydrogen, H2) or low-carbon (methanol, MeOH) fuels. CFD will be used to analyze and predict in detail all the physical processes that characterize the engine operation, from the fuel injection to the combustion and emission formation processes.

Continuing our efforts to advance sustainable mobility, Convergent Science, Aramco Americas, and Argonne National Laboratory founded the IMPACT (Initiative for Modeling Propulsions and Carbon-neutral Transport Technologies) consortium, which launched in 2023. IMPACT aims to develop and demonstrate accelerated virtual engine and fuel methods for sustainable transport technologies by working closely with the automotive industry. Two invitation-only workshops were held this year, each attended by nearly 100 participants, including representatives from 17 major OEMs. The consortium has made significant progress in modeling hydrogen engine technologies, including evaluating real-fluid effects in under-expanded H2 jets, developing and validating H2 jet injection and mixing models, and assessing chemical kinetics for ultra-lean H2 combustion.

The IMPACT team and support staff at the second 2023 IMPACT consortium workshop.

Finally, Phase II of the Computational Chemistry Consortium (C3) kicked off in April, with a projected timeline of three years. C3 was founded by Convergent Science to advance combustion and emissions modeling by bringing together industry, academic, and government partners. Phase I of C3 resulted in the publication of C3MechV3.3, the most comprehensive publicly-available chemical mechanism to date, in 2022. In Phase II, C3 has focused on improving chemical kinetic mechanism predictions for alternative fuels such as hydrogen, ammonia, and methanol. In addition, the consortium has been studying dual fuel applications and working to improve NOx emissions predictions. 

Expanding CFD Access

If there’s one thing you can say about all the owners of Convergent Science, it’s this: we love CFD. We recognize the immense potential of CFD to help engineers create efficient, sustainable, and effective technologies across a wide range of industrial sectors—and we want as many people as possible to have access to simulation tools. That’s why, in June 2023, we launched the CONVERGE Explore Program. This program provides a means for engineers at all levels—whether they’re just starting out or they’ve been in the field for decades—to get their hands on CONVERGE and learn how to run CFD simulations. CONVERGE Explore provides free software licenses and learning resources to help users get up and running in CONVERGE. This program is for learning purposes only, so CONVERGE Explore licenses cannot be used for commercial work, but participating in this program can help you build a strong foundation in CFD that will benefit you for the rest of your career. 

This same philosophy is what led us to start our CONVERGE Academic Program several years ago. Universities and other academic institutions stand at the forefront of research, helping to advance fundamental science and leading the way in the development of new technology. Our academic program provides exclusive license deals (free in many cases) to academic institutions around the world. This year, the CONVERGE Academic Program has seen significant growth, as we’ve onboarded more than 60 new university departments. In total, we work with well over 200 universities globally, encompassing hundreds of students and professors studying a wide array of problems, including rockets, gas turbines, rotating detonation engines, tire contact and wear, dust modeling, and burners. 

Of course, increasing the accessibility of CFD software is only one piece of the simulation puzzle—another critical piece is having access to adequate hardware on which to run your cases. We introduced our cloud computing service, CONVERGE Horizon, back in September 2022. Over the past year, we’ve continued to demonstrate the benefits of this platform, which provides users with access to top-of-the-line computing hardware and on-demand CONVERGE licenses. We have some exciting upgrades in the works for CONVERGE Horizon, so stay tuned for more information in the coming months!

Connecting Over CONVERGE

As engineers around the globe are performing impactful research with CONVERGE, we want to provide a platform for our users to share their work with the scientific community. In 2023, we hosted conferences on three continents, beginning with our CONVERGE User Conference–India. Held February 13–16 in Pune, this event consisted of technical presentations, CONVERGE training, and networking opportunities. Scott Parrish from General Motors and Hariganesh R. from Reliance Industries gave excellent keynote presentations on the development of propulsion system components for electric vehicles and alternative fuels for future mobility, respectively. I’m pleased to report that my team (Team Eclectic, of course!) emerged victorious at the trivia tournament during our evening networking event.

2023 CONVERGE User Conference–India in Pune.

In September, we virtually hosted the global 2023 CONVERGE CFD Conference, in place of our traditional user conference. We made this change to emphasize that you don’t need to be a CONVERGE user to attend our events! We want everyone interested in simulation and technology development to have the opportunity to learn about cutting-edge CFD research in their field of interest. The theme of our conference was “Simulation for Sustainable Technology”, and it featured four days of technical presentations and CONVERGE workshops focusing on the automotive, aerospace, energy, and biomedical industries. We were thrilled to have Ben Hodgkinson, Technical Director of Red Bull Ford Powertrains, give a keynote address on the motorsport industry’s efforts to decarbonize and the role of CFD in developing sustainable power units. Following the live portion of the event, the technical presentations and CONVERGE workshops were available for registrants to watch on demand for the next month. This was our biggest conference yet, with over 650 registrants from more than 40 countries around the world. If you missed the event, you can check out the publicly available presentations on our website!

In October, we hosted the first edition of the Hydrogen for Sustainable Mobility Forum with the SAE International Torino Section in Italy. This two-day event focused on the potential of green hydrogen for sustainable transportation systems. Attendees heard from a range of organizations, including Ferrari, Alpine Racing, FPT Industrial, Intelligent Energy, PUNCH Torino, and Gamma Technologies. We had a great time at this event, which also included a delicious networking dinner and exclusive tours of PUNCH Torino’s state-of-the-art test facilities. 

Hydrogen for Sustainable Mobility Forum in Torino, Italy.

Growing Our Team

Back where it all started, in Madison, Wisconsin, we’re about to celebrate another milestone—the grand opening of our World Headquarters expansion! Our team was rapidly outgrowing our current office building, so we purchased a second building just down the road in 2022. Renovations began in November of last year (kicked off with a demolition party involving the whole Madison team!), and construction is finishing up this month. The new building features 43 individual offices, conference and training rooms, a fitness center, a recording studio, and an outdoor patio (which our employees will unfortunately not be able to enjoy properly until the spring, given the realities of Wisconsin winters). It’s important to us that our employees have their own offices and a comfortable space to work in, and we couldn’t be happier with how this new building turned out. 

In addition to the two office buildings in Madison, we also have offices in Detroit, Michigan; Houston and New Braunfels, Texas; Linz, Austria; and Pune, India. 2023 was a great year for all of our branches! We added new employees, grew our client bases, and increased our presence in a variety of new markets around the world. This year, we onboarded new clients working on rockets, alternative fuels for IC engines, refrigeration compressors, spray nozzles, air pollution control equipment, and oil and gas applications, among others. We look forward to continuing to bring the value of CONVERGE to new clients and new markets in the future!

Looking Ahead

2023 was a successful year for Convergent Science, and there’s a lot to look forward to in 2024. We’ve been hard at work on CONVERGE 4, the next major version of our software. CONVERGE 4 includes a host of new features and enhancements, and we can’t wait to share this new version with you soon! We’re excited to attend trade shows around the globe and to host more CONVERGE conferences—I hope we’ll get the chance to see you at an upcoming event! We’re eager to keep working on our collaborative research projects and to form new connections with clients and partners. Most of all, we look forward to continuing to carry out our mission: to help you run revolutionary simulations and provide you with the tools you need to create the next generation of technology.

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