Mechanical Engineering ETDs

Publication Date



Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) is a tool utilized in industry and academia to help provide a better understanding of a flow field. It is advantageous to use because building experiments for all different flow scenarios can become extremely expensive. Also, there is no need to disturb or add particles to the flow field in order to make measurements like many experimental methods require. CFD does have its own flaws though. The simulations can be extremely time extensive and expensive whether it be the code itself or the processing unit chosen in which to run the simulations. An additional major problem with CFD is the difficulty in obtaining the same or even similar results when using a model across different codes. This has brought us to our first goal of validating OpenFOAM. OpenFOAM is the CFD tool chosen in this research because of its open-source nature allowing it to be free to the general public and allowing for the implementation of different models. In order to validate OpenFOAM two eddy viscosity models will be used to simulate the flow around a NACA 4412 airfoil. The NACA 4412 airfoil was chosen because it is a flow of interest that when ran at its critical angle of attack a separation bubble forms at the trailing edge of the airfoil. This separation bubble is a common occurrence in everyday flows around any bluff body or streamlined body that is not place perfectly parallel to the flow direction. The NACA 4412 flow field is also a benchmark case provided by NASA for fluid dynamic researchers to validate their computational platform. The second goal of this research is to implement a Reynolds Stress Transport Model (RSTM) in OpenFOAM. These types of models make less assumptions than the aforementioned eddy viscosity models, and therefore should be able to predict the flow field with a higher order of accuracy. If we can prove that RSTM models capture the physics surrounding the separation bubble more accurately, then potential arises to look into even higher order models that previously have been pushed aside due to the lack of computing power.


Computational Fluid Dynamics, NACA 4412 airfoil, OpenFOAM, Turbulent Flow

Degree Name

Mechanical Engineering

Level of Degree


Department Name

Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Poroseva, Svetlana

First Committee Member (Chair)

Vorobieff, Peter

Second Committee Member

Truman, C. Randall


The material is in part based upon work supported by NASA under award NNX12AJ61A and by the Junior Faculty UNM-LANL Collaborative Research Grant. A part of the simulations were conducted using the high- performance facilities of the UNM Center for Advanced Research Computing.

Document Type