¥14,409
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5
backers
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Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Thu, June 7 2018 8:47 AM UTC +00:00
Yuki MinamotoBy Yuki Minamoto
First created
Yuki MinamotoBy Yuki Minamoto
First created
¥14,409
pledged of ¥300,000pledged of ¥300,000 goal
5
backers
0seconds to go
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Thu, June 7 2018 8:47 AM UTC +00:00

About

Hello!

We are running a small business, called Nora Scientific (named after my dog) in Tokyo, Japan, and are providing our clients with tools and insights to solve their fluid flow related problems. 

What we want to do in this project

We want to develop a fully 3D fluid simulation software, which is cheap, accessible and easy to use for everyone (high school and university students, engineers, designers, artists, etc.).

Why this project is important

Many engineering products need to be designed and operated to achieve higher energy efficiency. Some of such examples are reduction of air drag and cooling losses of various devices. Other (and more everyday) examples include optimisation of AC and air circulator locations for optimum temperature distribution and to minimise energy consumption. For such optimisation purposes, trial and error approaches are not very efficient due to the cost and time, and it would be better if we can test few cases using a fluid simulation software.

Performing simulations is also considered to be more cost and time effective than experiments, to predict other fluid flow phenomena such as pollutant dispersion, strong winds blowing through the buildings, air flows around many sports activities such as cycling, skiing, swimming and motor sports.

While fluid phenomena are relevant to our lives as well as design and operation of industrial devices, their understanding and prediction are very hard even for engineers. This is because (i) fluid flows are not visible and intuitive understanding is almost impossible (unless you're made of mathematics), (ii) deciding numerical conditions and schemes for simulations requires significantly deep fluid mechanics and computer science knowledge, (iii) performing conventional fluid simulation software requires a number of pre- and post-processing steps on top of the fluid simulation itself.

Especially, conventional commercial simulation software is very expensive (usually ~10,000 US$/license) and complex, and many engineering companies often use specialised consultant services (which costs even more; but it's ok for them because using fluid simulation is that effective for their business).

Since 2014, we have developed and released a 2D fluid simulation software, Flowsquare (http://flowsquare.com/). Flowsquare is free (or very cheap) compared to the conventional commercial fluid simulation software which usually costs around $10,000 per license. Flowsquare has been used in various schools, institutes and companies in many countries for mostly education and training purposes, and helped over 20,000 people understand fluid flows to the best of our knowledge.

However, current Flowsquare can only predict two-dimensional flows, whereas most fluid flow phenomena in real life have strong three dimensionality, which cannot be realised in 2D except for several ideal configurations. A 3D flow simulation software with a user interface as easy as Flowsquare would be very useful, not only for education/training, but also design optimisation and problem investigation. Thus, we would like to develop such a handy 3D flow simulation software, temporary named. Flowsquare+.

Important features of Flowsquare+

The 3D fluid flow simulation software, Flowsquare+, described above will have following four features which differentiate Flowsqure+ from other commercial software.

1. No complicated pre- and post-processing is required to start the simulations.
Only preparation the users need to do is to draw images of a flow model (eg. a car, a wing, a room) using Microsoft Paint. There is no need to construct your model using CAD, to generate computational mesh out of it, or to specify boundary elements, etc. (CAD import capability is planned to be added in future update). The patent-pending technology to create complicated full 3D models based on bitmap images with Paint alone has been developed in Nora Scientific.

A schematic of the patent-pending method with a 3D model that can be constructed based on 3 bitmap Paint images.
A schematic of the patent-pending method with a 3D model that can be constructed based on 3 bitmap Paint images.

2. Real-time visualisation during the simulation
Unlike conventional flow simulation software, evolution of the flow field can be visualised during the simulation (in-situ), and the users can view the predicted flow field as if they see the actual flow field developing.

3. Various visualisation tools are included by default
In conventional flow simulation software, the users need to prepare visualisation tools separately just to see the simulated flow field. In Flosqaure+, many visualisation tools are included and the users can choose various visualisation tools to visualise a flow field during and after the simulation. These visualisation tools include, but not limited to, velocity vector, cross-sectional colour contour, tracer particle, streamline, and the polygon rendered flow model can be superimposed on top of them.

4. Super cheap (and super fast)

Most fluid flow simulation tools cost around 10,000 US$/license, and no one can access to such tools except for relatively large companies and institutes. The form of Flowsquare+ license is not confirmed yet, but we are thinking of subscription-type licensing (below table) and price ranges of $10~$300 depending on license type. Also, Flowsquare+ utilises a cutting-edge multi-thread/multi-core computation technologies to accelerate the computational speed without any extra charge.

License types and subscription prices (to be confirmed).
License types and subscription prices (to be confirmed).

(*1) Anyone can use all of the software's functions for free as a trial user. (*2) Although there is a limitation of timestep advancement per execution, the user can restart from previous timestep to further advance simulations in time.

Current status and how the fund will be spent

Currently, a half of software development has been completed. More specifically, we have almost finished flow solver kernel, and we will need to develop and implement input/output interfaces, 3D visualisation and parallel processing capability, before optimising the software overall.

The collected fund will be used for programmer(s) for coding, website construction, and possibly proofing of English website/users' manual (as I am not a native English speaker). I have an employee to pay hourly, and I will also outsource for some of above items.

For the 3D fluid flow simulation software, development is more difficult and very high-level computer science technology is required compared to 2D software development. This is due to: (1) the user interface is more complex than 2D software, (2) we need to visualise flow fields utilising 3D graphics, and also, (3) efficient parallel processing is a key since the computational time increasing exponentially for 3D simulations. The funding collected through Kickstarter will be a part of the expense to help us accelerate and improve development at high level, and we hope we can finalise development sometime around this summer (or earlier if more resource can be put on development).

 Above video: Room AC (heating) simulation simulated by up-to-date Flowsquare+. The tracer particles are fed from AC, coloured based on temperature (red hot, blue cold). The room configuration and walls are constructed using a Flowsquare interface with Microsoft Paint.

Lastly,

Only few companies are utilising fluid flow simulation effectively at the moment, but this will be a mainstream for design, development and optimisation soon in every sector, due to the advancement of computational speed. By using such simulations appropriately, we can save cost (money and labours) by reducing the amount of experimental trial and error, and accelerate the engineering development. We hope Flowsquare+ will form a part of such a mainstream.

Risks and challenges

As seen in the above demo-simulation movie, key components (solver kernel and some visualisation) have been already implemented, although they need some adjustment. We will need to develop user interface and several more visualisation tools to help the users easily understand their flow fields. Thus, the software will be for sure completed. Risks we think of are mostly related to development schedule and computational performance as follows.

(1) Release date may be delayed. We are aiming to complete coding and making manuals and website, and release the software in August 2018, if we can keep up with current schedule. Development speed mostly depends on the resources we can spend.

(2) Our computational time (speed) target is around 1 hour for a decent size, simple problem on a laptop. This depends on implementation of parallel processing and tuning of the solver kernel module. There is computer science engineer in our group to minimise computational cost for simulations, and we hope our software can simulate various flow fields on usual laptop.

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- (30 days)