Making a Breakthrough

By Todd McDevitt, Marketing Director, ANSYS

Engineering simulation helps product development teams around the world create energy-specific innovation in five key areas.

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Breakthrough energy innovation

In today’s market environment of extreme competition and increasing customer demands, perhaps no product feature has gained more attention than energy performance. Not only must engineers honor their traditional energy-related priorities — such as minimizing consumption and waste, and keeping production costs low — but now they must also establish their companies as energy leaders and innovators, offering high-performing products. It’s not enough to make incremental improvements; today the focus is clearly on breakthrough energy innovation.

Because simulation enables product development teams to make engineering decisions quickly and confidently, discarding some ideas and embracing others, it has assumed greater importance when pushing product designs beyond incremental improvements. While simulation is being widely applied to study a diverse range of energy-related performance issues, ANSYS has identified five applications that are especially critical as companies worldwide pursue breakthrough energy innovation: advanced electrification, machine and fuel efficiency, aerodynamic design, effective lightweighting and thermal optimization.

In each of these areas, ANSYS customers are leveraging the power of engineering simulation to break new ground in energy performance. Their success should inspire other companies to ask and answer challenging product development questions via simulation — leading to performance enhancements that help redefine existing product categories and create entirely new ones.


Hybrid and electric vehicles have been making headlines for years, but the automotive industry is not the only source of electrification innovation. In many industries, electrically driven products are replacing mechanical power systems because they offer a number of performance advantages, including lighter weight, smaller footprints and lower maintenance. How big is the opportunity for aggregate energy savings? Consider this: In the United States alone, more than 40 million industrial machines convert electricity into work for manufacturing operations. Over a motor’s lifetime, more than 97 percent of its total cost is accounted for by its power consumption; the remaining 3 percent of its cost represents the capital investment required to develop and manufacture the motor.
ANSYS simulation solutions
ANSYS simulation solutions enable automotive engineers to evaluate sensors, actuators, motors and other components interacting with electronic circuits and control systems.

While it may be initially time- and cost-intensive for companies to examine their core mechanical systems and replace them with innovative electric systems, the long-term payoff in better conversion rates and energy savings should justify this investment. This is the reason so many engineering teams are currently focused on advanced electrification initiatives.

Because electrification programs require trade-offs on many design variables, and the simulations can be large and complex, ANSYS has worked to accelerate solution run times and streamline parametric analysis. For example, many customers benefit from high-performance computing (HPC) solutions for the ANSYS electromagnetic product suite. WEG Industries — one of the world’s largest manufacturers of electric motors — applied ANSYS Maxwell in an HPC environment to study and improve energy efficiency. By leveraging HPC-enabled electromagnetic simulations, WEG’s engineering team has decreased its computation times by a factor of 70 over nonsimulation design methods.

But HPC compatibility is not the only way ANSYS is increasing its support for electrification initiatives. Learn how AMD is using ANSYS PowerArtist to identify and eliminate areas of power waste within its chip designs.



Planes, cars, power plants, production facilities — all depend on engines or generators that must work optimally to maximize energy efficiency. This is a complex task for engineers, because it’s never enough to focus on one component. Instead, designers must look at how each component operates in conjunction with every other component in the machine system, under a diverse set of operating parameters. For instance, pumps, motors and loads must be exactly matched under startup, operating and peak conditions.

ANSYS Forte robustly and accurately simulates IC engine combustion performance with nearly any fuel, helping engineers rapidly design cleaner-burning, high-efficiency, fuel-flexible engines.

This system-level engineering approach means making complicated trade-offs. Higher firing temperatures might increase fuel efficiency, but also result in higher emissions, faster materials degradation or other negative performance aspects. As product development teams work to balance machinery energy efficiency with concerns about durability, safety, reliability and cost, engineering simulation offers an environment in which intelligent solutions can be achieved quickly. Product developers at Magneti Marelli Powertrain applied simulation to understand the trade-offs involved in adding a turbocharger to improve fuel economy and reduce emissions. Because turbochargers add heat, the team designed an intercooler system that reduced outlet temperatures by 8 percent and improved overall fuel economy by 5 percent. Simulation accelerated the development process for the new intercooler by reducing prototype iterations and allowing any design issues to be addressed at the earliest possible stage.

This issue of ANSYS Advantage highlights how BorgWarner, Tecumseh and Aditya Birla Science & Technology have also used ANSYS software to solve energy challenges related to machine and fuel efficiency.



Reducing aerodynamic drag has proven critical to increasing the energy efficiency of planes and cars. In fact, drag is responsible for 22 percent of the fuel consumed by a typical highway truck. Not only can aerodynamic improvements significantly decrease fuel costs and protect razor-thin profit margins, they can also help commercial airlines and trucking companies meet new fuel economy standards and environmental regulations. However, physical aerodynamics testing, which typically involves large wind tunnels and complex instrumentation, is expensive and time-consuming.

Automotive mirror aerodynamics
Automotive mirror aerodynamics

When transportation companies require an accurate prediction of vehicle aerodynamics, they are increasingly relying on engineering simulation. The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics depends on computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations to produce industry benchmarks and help aerospace companies meet industry performance requirements. At Piaggio Aero Industries, engineers have cut the time involved in evaluating new wing designs by more than 90 percent using ANSYS CFD and ANSYS DesignXplorer.

New Wind is maximizing the efficiency of its wind generators via simulation. An article describes how Emirates Team New Zealand is leveraging CFD simulation to design a new, more aerodynamic sail design that’s set to revolutionize America’s Cup yacht racing.



In the transportation sector, few engineering issues receive as much attention as lightweighting, which aims to increase energy efficiency by reducing vehicle weight. This can be accomplished in two ways, each of which presents significant design trade-offs.

Composite materials
Composite materials are used extensively in motorsport because of their lightness and strength.

First, product development teams can replace traditional materials, such as steel and aluminum, with lighter-weight alternatives such as plastic and composites. In doing so, engineers need to ensure that the long-term structural stability and durability of components remain high. They also need to re-engineer the manufacturing process for these components, since there will be a production switch from, for example, forging to injection molding. In the case of composites, engineers must also design the composite layup in an optimal manner, while guarding against special material concerns, including curing, springback and residual stress. A second method to achieve lightweighting is by reshaping parts to minimize material. By changing the width, thickness and size of parts, engineers can significantly reduce overall weight; however, it is imperative that product functionality is not adversely affected.

Simulation offers a rapid, cost-effective way for engineers to analyze the effects of new materials and new part geometries before moving on to costly physical prototypes. In the virtual world, design teams can consider the weight benefits of a new design and determine if that lower weight is offset by any performance issues — arriving at an optimal, lightweight solution. As one example, KTM Technologies, a consulting firm specializing in composite engineering, used simulation to design a sports car shell that is 20 percent lighter, without sacrificing strength or stability.

An article showcases the lightweighting initiative at Accuride, which has resulted in a 23 percent weight reduction in the company’s wide-base wheels for commercial trucks.


Thermal optimization

Thermal optimization helps many products perform at their best and safest. The issue of overheating inside consumer electronics products has received a lot of media attention because of numerous adverse incidents. In the manufacturing sector, 36 percent of total energy consumption is spent on heating applications. Optimizing industrial heating operations can have a significant impact on a company’s bottom line.

Simulating air flow in any room, from a data center to an auditorium
Simulating air flow in any room, from a data center to an auditorium, helps engineers reduce heating and cooling energy and expense.

While these examples are diverse, thermal optimization of all these products can be achieved via engineering simulation, which predicts not only internal temperatures but also reveals the physical phenomena behind the results. Simulation provides an early-stage method to identify and address any thermal issues before individual components are brought together into a cohesive system. Product development teams can save significant time and costs, while also ensuring the safe performance of their products under real-world operating conditions.

Thermal optimization is a special concern for companies that manufacture heating and cooling products, making simulation a tool with high strategic value. At Whirlpool Brazil, which designs gas burners for freestanding ranges, built-in ovens and cooktops, engineers apply ANSYS software to predict the heating properties of their product designs before the prototype phase. By minimizing rework and accelerating design iterations, the team has reduced overall development time by 30 to 40 percent.



Across these five application areas, we’ve observed some key characteristics of those engineering teams that are leading in energy innovation. These findings have been verified by third-party research, including a study conducted by Aberdeen earlier this year.

First, innovation leaders invest in advanced technology. Not only do they leverage the comprehensive ANSYS simulation technology platform, but they also use additive manufacturing, big data analytics and other leading-edge solutions to advance their efforts. They recognize that technology leadership leads to market leadership.

Second, they take a systems view. In today’s world of smarter and more sophisticated products, with complex energy demands, it is not enough to look at each component in isolation. Instead, product development teams must look at the implications for the entire system, making informed trade-offs that balance energy improvements with other performance characteristics.

Finally, energy leaders take a bold view of the future. They’re not focusing on “me too” product design tweaks, but on radical innovations that have the potential to change the category. They view the current focus on energy as a chance to differentiate their business with a dramatic reimagination of how energy is used, generated or stored by their product solutions.

At ANSYS, we’re honored to be working collaboratively with so many of the world’s energy leaders to arrive at next-generation solutions. The innovators profiled in this issue of ANSYS Advantage — and dozens of other ANSYS customers — are changing the way the world thinks about and uses energy. Their creativity and engineering diligence will deliver benefits for years to come.

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