CFD Analysis Automation for Optimum Airfoil Angle of Attack

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Category : Industrial Projects
Project Code : EDU-PRJ-PG-CFD-003
Project Subscribers : 13



Industrial Projects 8.0/10 Aerospace

An airfoil is the shape of a wing of an aircraft or turbine blade as seen in cross section. When airfoil moves through a fluid produces an aerodynamic force. The component of this force perpendicular to the direction of motion is called lift. The component parallel to the direction of motion is called drag. The lift on an airfoil is primarily the result of its angle of attack and shape.

For the aircraft to be more fuel efficient, it should have more lift and less drag on it. Generally lift and drag on an airfoil is specified in terms of lift and drag co-efficient.

The lift coefficient (Cl) is a dimensionless coefficient that relates the lift generated by a lifting body to the density of the fluid around the body, its velocity and an associated reference area. Similarly the drag coefficient (Cd) is a dimensionless quantity that is used to quantify the drag or resistance of an object in the fluid environment. Drag co-efficient is also related with density, velocity of the fluid and associated reference area.

To get more lift and less drag one need to find out lift to drag ratio (L/D) or Cl to Cd ratio for different angle of attacks. This ratio indicates airfoil efficiency. Aircrafts with higher L/D ratios are more efficient than with lower L/D ratios. A higher or more favorable L/D ratio is typically one of the major goals in aircraft design. Since a particular aircraft's required lift is set by its weight, delivering that lift with lower drag leads directly to better fuel economy, climb performance, and glide ratio. 

CFD plays an important role in design of aircrafts. By doing a CFD simulation one can find out lift and drag on the airfoil. As the same procedure has to be repeated for different angle of attacks, we can speed up this by doing automation of the process. It is very useful to automate whole process of simulation and make it parametric for design of experiments (DOE). For this we need to make a parametric code so that we can change parameters as per our need. This will definitely save a lot of time.

Learning and Skill Sets Required

The execution of this project demands the following theoretical knowledge:

  • Fluid Dynamics: CFD is based on Fluid Dynamics equations. It is very important for student to be comfortable with governing equations of fluid dynamics to do CFD simulation and interpretation of CFD results.
  • Theory of flow over an airfoil: Understanding the governing flow physics is important to simulate it using CFD. Studying flow over an airfoil gives a fair idea about how lift is generated by the airfoil. Some terminologies related to aerodynamics and airfoils are also required to learn for doing this simulation. Fundamentals of turbulence modelling and compressible flows are also needed to be studied as this simulation includes both turbulent and compressible flow.
  • CFD Fundamentals: CFD Fundamentals is studying about the governing physical equations, and how the fluid flow problems are solved on computers using numerical methods, the backbone of any CFD code. Students who use commercial CFD software to complete their project works, often refer to user’s manual or tutorial guide, to make a choice of numerical technique, or turbulence model, or the type of boundary condition to apply. But most of the tutorial guides let them down, by not providing sufficient explanation of the theoretical background and justification for using a particular numerical scheme for the given problem. So, knowing the fundamentals of CFD becomes very important in the process of using CFD as a tool for design analysis.

The execution of this project demands the following CFD software skills:

  • ANSYS ICEM CFD: This is pre-processing software that can be used for Mesh generation, which is nothing but a discrete representation of the geometry. Also, ANSYS ICEM CFD has advanced CAD/geometry readers and repair tools to allow the user to do the CAD cleanup work. In this project, ANSYS ICEM CFD will be used to do CAD cleanup of the tank model and generate structured hexahedral mesh through Multi-block approach. So, the knowledge of the software GUI, CAD tools, and blocking tools in ANSYS ICEM CFD is important to take up this project.
  • ANSYS FLUENT: This is a simulation tool that contains the broad physical modeling capabilities needed to model flow (laminar, turbulent), etc. This simulation software allows one to predict, the impact of fluid flows on the design or vice versa. Also, it has post-processing tools to extract simulation results and understand them. In this project, a turbulent flow will be simulated to predict the lift and drag on the airfoil using ANSYS FLUENT software. So, knowledge on the software GUI, solver set-up for turbulent flow & compressible flow, visualization techniques, are compulsory to work on this project. You also need to have a good knowledge of TUI commands of ANSYS Fluent as those commands will be extensively used while automating the CFD process. 

The execution of this project requires knowledge of following programming languages:

  • Tcl (Tool command language):  Tcl is a string based programming language. This language is necessary to learn for automating tasks done in ICEM CFD. In ICEM CFD a replay file can be recorded while doing the tasks, and it can be made parametric using Tcl.
  • Scheme: This is a programming language required for automating ANSYS Fluent. Scheme language will be used to do solver setup, running the simulation and for saving some quantitative and qualitative results.
  • Any one programming language (like C, C++ or Python): We recommend to use C programming language, but if the student is familiar with any other language then he/she may choose language of his choice. This language will be used to take input from the user and create required Tcl script and Scheme program. It will also run these scripts in background, and create a HTML report at the end of the simulation. 

Necessary LearnCAx Courses

Students opting for this project will have to go through online courses suggested by the LearnCAx mentor. This is to learn the required skillsets before start the project work. Following is the LearnCAx course required to execute this project.

The access to this course will be provided to the student as a part of the mentoring program and the validity of access exists till the project completion. 

Project and domain specific knowledge is not included in these courses. The course is designed to teach CFD methods in-general. The application of knowledge acquired through this course to this specific project has to be done by student. During project execution stage, mentor will guide student to apply the course knowledge for executing the project. Some of the project or domain specific training might not be directly covered in above course. Mentor will provide necessary guidance to students about from where they can acquire the project specific knowledge.

Who can take the project ?

  • Complexity Level -  8.0/10 (0-Low; 10-High)Automation of CFD simulation for investigating optimum angle of attack for an airfoil involves modelling of turbulent & compressible flow in ANSYS FLUENT. It is also expected that multiblock-structured mesh is to be generated for tank geometry. Considering overall work involved (including the automation of the CFD process), the project is inclined towards higher complexity.
  • Project Level - M.E./M.Tech./M.S.Generally, any Flow problem that involves additional physical models like Turbulence, Heat transfer models, Multiphase models, Rotating machinery related models, Dynamic mesh models, etc…, or automation process of CFD then we consider it as M.E. level project. In this project we are simulating a 2D compressible flow over an airfoil with structured hexahedral mesh. And we are also going to automate the whole CFD process. So, the level of the project is best suited for the post graduate students.
  • Duration - 6 MonthsAssuming the student can spend 3-4 hours of time per day and considering the amount of work involved in both learning (3 months) and working (3 months) on the project, we feel this project can be completed in 6 months. This duration might vary based on the amount of dedicated time; the student spends on the project work.

Benefits for students

Your academic project is one of the most important aspects of your degree. It is so important that it always decides what’s going to be next for you. Let it be higher studies or industrial job, the whole career path is based on the project work. With fierce competition powered by a rapid change in the world economy, every graduate/post-graduate is fighting a tough career battle today in the job market. All students look for an initial breakthrough in their careers and each one of them requires a good educational qualification complemented with a good project work.

Knowing CFD software is one important aspect for being CFD engineer, but using the CFD software for solving complex industrial problem is must when it comes to paving your path for career as CFD engineer. 

Working on this project will not only give you knowledge of solving a specific problem of flow over an airfoil, but it will also give you enough confidence to solve general turbulent flow problems using CFD. This project experience will boost your academic profile and make it suitable for companies looking for CFD engineer with expertise in aerodynamics or automation in CFD. Work experience on this project will open an opportunity for students in industries like aerospace, automobile and transportation industry.

Following are few in-built benefits you will get when working on this project:

  • Opportunity to work on challenging projects in field of aerodynamics
  • Opportunity to present project work and get reviews from industry experts
  • Project certification done by industry
  • Opportunity to learn non-technical aspects of project execution followed in industry
  • Opportunity to sharpen the domain expertise and shape future career path

This project is to be executed using ANSYS ICEM CFD and ANSYS FLUENT software. When it comes to solving complex flow problems, ANSYS FLUENT is one of the best choices for industries. Working on this project will give you exposure to ANSYS FLUENT turbulence modeling, automation of CFD Process and will open large number of opportunities in industry.

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Project Details

Mentor Project Details

Flow around an airfoil will be simulated in this project. Initially one airfoil will be selected. Hexahedral meshing will be done for that airfoil. Meshing process will be automated using Tcl scripting. Then the simulation will be done. For one airfoil simulation will be done for three different Mach numbers (0.5, 0.8, 1). And for every Mach number the simulation has to be done for seven different angle of attacks (0.5, 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10). So for one single airfoil there will be total 21 simulations need to be done. As all these simulations differ a little bit in few parameters, to save efforts and time these simulations will be automated using Scheme programming. By doing this simulation the optimum angle of attack is needed to be investigated for the airfoil at three Mach numbers as specified above. 

C programming language (or similar language of student’s choice) will be used to take all the inputs required for meshing and simulation from the user. It will also create parametric scripts for creating mesh, completing the simulation and run those scripts. Post processing will be done using scheme language and report will be created using C language. 

After the automation of the process is completed, this whole process will be tested on at least on 2 similar airfoils.  

Objective of the Study

The objective of this CFD study is to investigate the optimum angle of attack for the given airfoil at three different Mach numbers. When aircraft is operated at optimum angle of attack it will give better fuel economy. Optimum angle of attack is found out from lift to drag ratios at different angle of attacks.

Project inputs to be shared with students

LearnCAx discussed with the CCTech team to extract the inputs required for the execution of this project. These inputs will be shared with the students before they start with the project work. Following is brief information on the project inputs and how to use them. 

Geometry: Student will receive a CSV (comma separated values) file which will contain the co-ordinates of the airfoil. This can be imported in ANSYS ICEM CFD. The external domain dimensions will be provided through scaled drawings. Using these dimensions and with the help of geometry creation tools in ANSYS ICEM CFD the external domain can be included in the tank.

  • Airfoil co-ordinates – CSV file
  • External domain – Dimensions through drawing

Material properties: The material properties of the working fluid i.e. air will be provided to the students in a tabular format. This includes density and kinematic viscosity of the fluids at the operating temperature, in SI units. These values can be used directly in ANSYS FLUENT‘s material properties dialog box. 

  • Density
  • Viscosity

Flow Conditions: The flow conditions are needed to define boundary conditions. In this project, air speed, direction of the flow, operating pressure and temperature are the important inputs required to specify boundary condition in ANSYS FLUENT. 

  • Air speed
  • Direction of the flow 
  • Operating pressure
  • Operating temperature

Expected deliverable from student

After completion of the project, set of deliverables has to be submitted to LearnCAx and CCTech. These deliverables include details project report and necessary software files. Following are the details of these deliverables. These deliverables will be used to review the quality of work done based on which grading and certification will be done.

Project Report

The report should be in word format and expect to provide the project details starting from the problem description, validation case details & results, CFD domain, meshing details, solution strategy, solver set-up, results, algorithm for automation and conclusion at the end. An overview of the expected content is provided below.

  • Introduction: A brief introduction to the project domain along with the need for the study is expected in this section.
  • Project Overview: In this section, explain in detail about the project or the problem and also specify the objective of the problem.
  • Validation Case Details: As we don’t have any experiment results to compare CFD results for our project, we need to validate our solution methodology by doing validation case study for which experimental results are available. So the details about the reference paper, problem definition, geometry, mesh, solver setup, results, and the learnings from the validation study are to be provided in this section.
  • CFD Domain: Student can add images of the given CAD model along with the external CFD domain.
  • Meshing: Provide details about the type of mesh used, cell count, mesh quality, images of mesh.
  • Boundary Conditions: Air speed, direction of the flow, operating pressure and temperature 
  • Solver Set-up: Details about the turbulence model and numerical discretization schemes used to capture the flow physics should be provided.
  • Results: This section of the report may have details of convergence, machine run time, and most importantly the CFD results. Results include both qualitative and quantitative. 
    • Qualitative Results: Images of the velocity and pressure contours for all Mach numbers and angle of attacks (at least for one airfoil). 
    • Quantitative Results: Plot of Cl/Cd Vs angle of attack (for all Mach numbers), Cl – Cd values in tabular format, plot of Y plus 
  • Algorithm for automation: An algorithm for the process of automation should be provided in this section. A short explanation of the algorithm is also expected.
  • Conclusion: Finally end the report with a summary or conclusion of the result analysis. 

Files to be submitted

All the necessary files related to this project are to be submitted to the company for their future reference. This includes both ANSYS ICEM CFD and ANSYS FLUENT associated files, as listed below.

  • Geometry : .tin file
  • Blocking : .blk file
  • Mesh : .uns file
  • Tcl script: .tcl file
  • Simulation : .cas and .dat for all cases
  • Simulation report: .html files 
  • Scheme file: .scm file
  • C program file (language may be different, as per the choice of student): .C file


Mentor Project Mentor

LearnCAx mentor program connects Students, Mentors, and Industrial/University Projects together. Through this unique program, we give an opportunity for students to work on challenging projects offered by industry or assigned by your university. Main aim of LearnCAx mentor program is to give all necessary knowledge and guidance to students, so that they can work on challenging projects. For success of this program, it is very critical for students to understand how this program works, what is role of LearnCAx mentor, and what is role of student.

To get an overall idea about LearnCAx mentor program, visit Overview and How it Works? articles.

Every project has different challenges and requires specific domain expertise. LearnCAx has team of mentors. Every mentor has expertise in CFD and large work experience in executing industrial projects. They have developed domain experts in specific domain by executing industrial project in the domain for more than 5 years. When you enroll for LearnCAx mentor program, you get a dedicated mentor. Mentor is decided based on the project definition and required expertise. 

The complete LearnCAx mentor program is based on the theme of “Learn – Try – Execute”. This is student centric approach, where it is expected that student would learn and acquire all required knowledge, try the knowledge on simple problems and then execute the project. LearnCAx mentor is a guide/mentor who will be with student during every phase, let it be learning or executing the project. Mentor will provide all required guidance to student enrolled for this program. 

Following are the few responsibilities of LearnCAx mentor:

  • To check if project is feasible using CFD or not
  • To design the learning path for students which will include required courses and domain knowledge
  • Guide student to break the project into intermediate stages
  • Guide student to make required assumptions and simplify the problem
  • Guide student during their learning phase
  • Guide student during the project execution phase
  • Review the project work at regular intervals
  • Review project work and provide feedback

Our main focus is to give student a working experience on challenging project. Student will execute all the stages of project by acquiring required skill sets. Mentor will provide necessary guidance. Following are few things LearnCAx mentor will not do:

  • Provide customized training specific for the assigned project
  • Work on any of the project execution stage including meshing and simulation
  • Prepare the project report/presentation


Mentor Project Certification

About Company Offering this Project

This is an industrial project offered by Centre for Computational Technologies Pvt. Ltd. (CCTech). CCTech is a venture started by a group of IITians and industry professionals with extensive experience in CAD/CFD application, development, and testing. The average experience of a CAD/CFD professional at CCTech is more than 6 years. Members of the advisory board and principal consultants are specialists in various applications of CAD/CFD, empowering CCTech to handle complex CAD/CFD problems.

CCTech has always taken new challenges in terms of problem complexity and project time lines. It has successfully carried out various projects in high speed aerodynamics, HVAC of automobile, data center cooling, analysis of automobile defrost and ventilation ducts, volute design for pump, fluidized bed simulation, soot formation in IC engines etc.

This project is offered by CCTech’s CFD consultancy division. CFD consultancy division offers design, analysis and optimization services for various industries and successfully completed more than 100 projects. With its quality of work and capability of handling challenging project, CFD consultancy division is one of the preferred choices for many industries including automobile, heat exchanger, and control valve manufacturers, oil & gas design and consultancy firms. Working on this project will give you an opportunity to work with expert engineers in the CFD consultancy division and it would be unique learning experience. To know more about the company, visit

Assessment Process

This project will go through two levels of assessment. The first level of assessment will be done by project mentor. Second level of assessment will be done by review panel from Centre for Computational Technologies Pvt. Ltd. (Company offering this project). The assessment process is designed to make sure that a student has gone through all the necessary learning and project execution stages. The assessment process is also designed to grade the project work for quality of work done by student.

Project mentor’s assessment is a continuous monitoring process. The assessment process is designed to make sure that student executes each and every stage of project successfully with desired output and learning. Project mentor will do assessment at following stages:

  • Learning done by student to make sure that student has acquired skills to execute the project
  • Literature survey and problem understanding by student to make sure that student has understood the complexity of project and knows the execution path
  • Geometry and meshing techniques used to make sure its quality
  • Simulation and methods used to make sure that it will satisfy the objective of simulation
  • Project report review and presentation to make sure that the project objectives are satisfied

After completion of project, the final assessment and review will be done by team from Centre for Computational Technologies Pvt. Ltd. The review will be done based on the project report submitted by student. The project work will be graded based on following criteria

  • Aim and objective of the simulation work done by student
  • Geometry and physics simplifications done by students and its validity
  • Meshing method used, cell count and its quality
  • CFD models, boundary conditions used and its validity
  • Agreement of CFD results with data available with CCTech
  • Simulation results and student’s interpretation about the results


After successful completion of the project, student will get a certificate issued by Centre for Computational Technologies Pvt. Ltd. This industrial project certificate will add a great value in student’s profile and will lay a foundation for their career in CFD domain.

Student’s project work will go through a rigorous review process set by CCTech. A review team will grade students work and assign grading out of 10. CCTech will give a project completion certificate with acquired grade to the student.


Mentor Project FAQ

1. What is the educational background is expected to work on this project? 

An engineering background in Mechanical or Aerospace branch is suitable to work on this project.

2. Which programming languages are required to learn so as to complete this project?

You will need to learn Tcl (Tool command language), Scheme programming, and one programming language similar to C, C++ or python (this language can be of your choice).

3. Will I get project completion certificate from LearnCAx or the company?

You will get the certificate from the company. You can appear for a test and get course completion certificate separately from us. This is independent of the project completion.

4. Why there is cost associated with this project?

Although this project is offered by industry, there is need of courses and dedicated mentor to guide the student throughout project journey. The total cost has two components, one the cost associated with required LearnCAx courses and cost associated with guidance provided by mentor. Some part of the total cost is also for continuous assessment and project certification.

5. You have mentioned that the project is for ME or MTech or MS students. I am a BE or undergraduate student, can I do this project?

Ideally this project is for ME/MTech level students. If you are a BE student you will need more time than the mentioned project duration. If you are interested in the project and have 8 months to an year to work on the project then you can consider this project.  

6. We are a group of 3 to 4 students. Can we as a group work on this project?

No. This project is for a single individual only. A group of student cannot take this project.

7. As a undergraduate or BE student can I do this project individually?

Yes. If you are an undergraduate or BE student having interest and appropriate time and background required for this project you can take this project. But you will need to do this project individually and not in group. Also as this is a ME level project, you should expect that it will be challenging at BE level. A BE level student must have at-least an year to work on the project.


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