MATLAB Answers

Can I use Matlab/Simulink to replace our current CFD?

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Rob Lord
Rob Lord on 21 Mar 2021
Edited: Precise Simulation on 31 Mar 2021
We are about to buy a CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) program and thought, before we commit such a large amount of money, we would search all new CFD programs. Our domain usually comprises 2-4 million cells, and 90% of the time we are just modellling pollutant or temperature or velocity. lately though we have been challenged to model to model new variables, which we ourselves create. e.g. covid 19 transmission risk. To do this, we go to a special variable creator and add specific formulae.
Someone in our office suggested Matlab could do this type of CFD for also. I want to check in that this is possible.

Answers (2)

Precise Simulation
Precise Simulation on 31 Mar 2021
Edited: Precise Simulation on 31 Mar 2021
As developer of the CFDTool and FEATool Multiphysics MATLAB toolboxes which fully integrate the OpenFOAM and SU2 CFD solvers I would say that a couple of million cells is just about the (practical) limit for working with physics simulations in MATLAB. Although MATLAB can efficently handle very large sparse matrices (such as arising in CFD and physics simulations), the built-in sparse solvers (UMFPACK) are not quite up to the task of solving them efficiently, which is better handed off to dedicated solvers (such as OpenFOAM, SU2, FEniCS etc). Furthermore, the visualization back end currently used by MATLAB seem to kind of hit its limit of visualizing around a million or so of cells (patches) after which the graphics rendering gets really sluggish (at least compared to more modern OpenGL renderers such as VTK etc). So in my experience I would say MATLAB is a very nice environment for small to medium scale CFD and physics simulations, while larger scale is better handled by dedicated software, and in your case 2-4 million cells is again just around the limit where it would might sense. I think the strength and benefit of using MATLAB would be that your simulations are completely cusomizable and scriptable and integrate natively with all MATLAB toolboxes and solutions. Feel free to download and try the toolboxes to get a feeling for how MATLAB performs with CFD simulations.

Christopher McCausland
Christopher McCausland on 21 Mar 2021
Hi there,
MATLAB is a great and versatile programe that can acheive many things, CFD being one of them. I am currently working with arrays 9*300000 so roughly 2.7 million data points with relelative ease and there are methods for dealing with larger arrays if needed.
I would however seriouly suggest contacting the MATLAB sales team for further advice as to your project requirements. Not only will this give you peace of mind but there could be add-ons which improve your workflow.
I hope this helps,



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