Photon genie how to use

CHAM Technical Report: TR 001


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Extended Contents

    1. Less-conventional features: physics

    2. Less-conventional features: mathematics

1. What PHOENICS is

  • PHOENICS is a general-purpose software package which uses the techniques of CFD (i.e. Computational Fluid Dynamics) to predict quantitatively:
    • how fluids (air, water, steam, oil, blood, etc) flow in and around:
      • engines,
      • process equipment,
      • buildings,
      • human beings,
      • lakes, river and oceans,
      • and so on;
    • what are the associated changes of temperature and of chemical and physical composition;
    • what are the associated stresses in the immersed or surrounding solids.
  • The last-mentioned feature makes it also an "SFT code", wherein the acronym stands for 'Solid-Fluid-Thermal' and draws attention to the unique stresses-in-solids capability of PHOENICS.
  • Its name is an for
    Parabolic Hyperbolic Or Elliptic Numerical Integration Code Series,
    wherein "parabolic", "hyperbolic" and "elliptic" are the words which mathematicians use to distinguish the underlying equations. However, the mention of equations does not imply that PHOENICS is intended for mathematicians.
  • PHOENICS is indeed employed primarily by:-
    • scientists for interpreting their experimental observations;
    • engineers for the design of aircraft and other vehicles, and of equipment which produces power or which processes materials;
    • architects for the design of buildings;
    • environmental specialists for the prediction, and if possible control, of environmental impact and hazards; and
    • teachers and students for the study of fluid dynamics, heat transfer, combustion and related disciplines.
  • PHOENICS has been continuously marketed, used and developed since 1981. Many, but surprisingly not all (e.g. the parabolic option) of its original features have found their way into competitive codes; but its newer ones (e.g. In-Form, MUSES, IMMERSOL) remain unique.
  • PHOENICS is also used as the 'computational engine' of special-purpose software packages, whether its own, such as FLAIR for heating, ventilating and air-movement simulation, or within other company's packages, such WINDSIM, for wind-farm simulation.

2. Distinguishing PHOENICS from other CFD and solid-stress codes

Since there now exist many commercial software packages which perform some of the functions as PHOENICS, newcomers may welcome the following indications of the respects in which PHOENICS is different, and in many cases unique. The topics discussed are:

2.1 Relational Data Input

Whereas other packages, and PHOENICS itself until 2007, allow the setting up of single-instance flow-simulation scenarios, the user of the new PHOENICS can set up classes of scenarios, of which sub-sets are selected by way of user-chosen parameters.

These, which are designed for particular classes of would-be flow simulators, are designed to provide their users with just what they need and no more, thereby enabling persons without specific CFD expertise to benefit from CFD.

2.2 Multiply-Shared space

Unique to PHOENICS is the , technique which allows many fluids to flow within the same space, as for example in the heat exchanger shown below, in which the solid stresses may also be computed simultaneously.


The input file is library Case z604. Click in order to inspect it.

MUSES has been employed for the construction of the PHOENICS-special-purpose version, , for blast- and other shaft furnaces.

2.3 User-supplied coding

Whereas many codes now enable users to supply their own sub-routines (a facility pioneered by PHOENICS in 1981), only PHOENICS has an automatic new-Fortran-writing facility (i.e. PLANT) which makes it unnecessary for the user even to understand Fortran.

2008 update

It should be remarked that, although PLANT is still available; and is much used by its devotees, it has been greatly surpassed by its successor, In-Form, the use of which CHAM recommends.

The following example shows a small fraction of the PLANT-generated Fortran coding for the just-mentioned heat-exchanger simulation.


2.4 Input of data via formulae

Also unique to PHOENICS is the facility, which is even more powerful than PLANT, yet requires no new coding at all.

Here for example is what the user enters into the input-data file when he or she wishes to set linearised momentum sources which depend on:

  • position (XG, YG),
  • the absolute velocity (VEL),
  • the individual velocity components (U1,V1),
  • the local material (indicated by IMAT), and
  • two pre-set constants (XIC, YIC).
PATCH(I,CELL,1,NX,1,NY,1,NZ,1,LSTEP) (SOURCE of U1 at I is 1.E5(VEL(YIC-YG)-U1) with IMAT>=90!LINE) (SOURCE of V1 at I is 1.E5(VEL(XG-XIC)-V1) with IMAT>=90!LINE)

The formulae following the "is" can have almost unlimited complexity.

'with IMAT>=90' means: 'for materials having identifying indices greater than or equal to 90'.

'!LINE' means: 'linearise the source so as to accelerate convergence'.

An extensive power-point description of In-Form can be seen by clicking

2.5 Input of data via the Virtual-Reality Editor

The Graphical User Interface of PHOENICS facilitates the import of objects from:

  • its own large library
  • CAD packages
  • its own solid-modelling package, Shapemaker,
  • the powerful bundled-with-PHOENICS package.

Once imported, the objects can be moved, stretched, rotated, duplicated, grouped, given, attributes, hidden, deleted, etc. By default, after the objects have been placed in the desired positions, the grid adjusts itself to fit them optimally.

2.6 : fitting curved surfaces into cartesian grids

Of course, if bodies with curved surfaces are to be fitted into cartesian or polar grids, something special must be done to the equations for the obliquely-cut cells in order to procure smooth flow around the object.

This 'something special' is PARSOL, which does away with the 'staircase-like' appearance and behaviour sometimes exhibited by other codes.

An example of flow though an array of louvres is shown here:

velocity contours.

Are the results from cartesian grids with PARSOL as accurate as those from body-fitted grids?

The following simulations of laminar flow around an airfoil suggest that they are:

2008 update

The Virtual-Reality Editor received a new lease of life in 2007. Until then, it had been restricted to creating single-instance input files. However, the introduction of the 'protected mode' of operation has allowed it to handle 'relational' input data.

What this means has been explained

2.7 MOFOR: moving objects through cartesian grids

Another unique (it is believed) capability of PHOENICS is it ability to simulate the influence on the flow of the motion of single, many, or articulated bodies through fluids.

Examples are:

Such simulations are very difficult, and perhaps impossible, for computer codes which try to make the grid move with the object.

2.8 The

Whereas all of the competing codes are constrained to use full three-dimensional grids and storage for all (3D) simulations, the unique parabolic option of PHOENICS enables many practically important flows (eg in pipes, smoke plumes, and boundary layers on aircraft wings) to be handled much more economically, and therefore accurately.

The following simulation of smoke movement in a long tunnel, with a million-node grid, for example, was performed in this way, long ago, on a 386 lap-top computer.


It was recently used for the simulation of the plume of oil-polluted water rising above the wrecked PRESTIGE oil tanker on the floor of the Atlantic.

2.9 Simultaneous fluid, heat and solid-stress analysis

There exist many well-established computer codes for stress-analysis only; and PHOENICS is not proposed as a replacement for them. However, if fluid-flow, solid-stress and thermal interactions are all of significance, PHOENICS is the only computer code which can handle them all simultaneously.

This is illustrated in the following "multi-physics" example, wherein vectors in the fluid region represent flow velocity, whereas those in the region occupied by solid represent displacement, from which, of course, stress and strain may be deduced.


2.10 Fine-grid embedding

Although PHOENICS has a fully-unstructured-grid capability, local grid refinement is possible when a structured grid is in use, by way of ,.

The following picture illustrates the use of this feature for simulating the flow around an automobile displayed in the Virtual-Reality interface (also a unique feature of PHOENICS):


2.11 Wall-distance and -gap calculation

The influence of solid walls on the flowing fluids which they surround is of such importance that flow-simulation codes need to be able to calculate, for each point within the fluid;

  • its distance from the nearest wall; and
  • the distance between nearby opposite walls.

For example, if flow between parallel plates is in question, and the Nikuradze formula for effective viscosity is to be used, the former is the distance from the nearer wall, and the second is the distance of one plate from the other.

Other turbulence models, e.g. Lam-Bremhorst, require at least the first of these; and the IMMERSOL radiation model requires the second.

PHOENICS possesses a unique (unless recently copied) method for calculating the two quantities in an economical manner; it involves solution of the equation.

2.12 Radiative heat transfer

Thermal radiation is so important a mode of heat transfer that most codes have some means of simulating it. Only PHOENICS however possesses the economical and realistic , which calculates the radiative transfer between arbitrarily-shaped solids immersed in fluids which may or may not themselves emit and absorb radiation.

This, like the LVEL model described below, makes use of the also-unique method of calculating distances from and between walls.

Below is a contour plot of the vertical-direction radiation flux, computed by way of IMMERSOL, for the same case as was mentioned above in respect of solid stress.

2.13 Turbulence: the LVEL model

Whereas some codes are confined to a single turbulence model, PHOENICS has a , including several which are unique.

The already-mentioned model is one; and it is perhaps the only model which provides a satisfactory compromise between physical realism and computational economy for flows in spaces 'cluttered' with solid objects, when the Reynolds number is not abnormally high.

2.14 Turbulence: the MFM model

Another of the unique-to-PHOENICS, the may prove to be of most long-term importance; for it allows the hitherto-intractable turbulence-chemistry-interaction problem to be resolved economically for the first time.

It computes "probability-density functions" (PDFs) such as that reproduced on the left-hand side of the diagram below.


All competitive codes, it appears, used the "presumed-PDF" method. In other words, they make guesses rather than calculations.

2.15 How many phases

Whereas some codes are confined to single-phase flows (eg air or water alone, but not a mixture of the two), PHOENICS can handle as well, as indicated by the following example:


2.16 Chemical reaction

Whereas some codes are confined to chemically-inert flows, PHOENICS can handle those which as well, as is shown by the following simulation of an oil-platform-explosion:


2.17 The input-file library

Because PHOENICS has been in continuous use for more than 20 years, tens of thousands (more probably millions) of calculations have been performed with its aid.

The data-input files corresponding to a tiny fraction (but still several thousand) of these have been included with each delivered PHOENICS package, in the form of an .

One of the methods which can be adopted by users faced with a new simulation problem is therefore to search through the library for files which solve problems akin to their own, one of which can be adopted as the starting point for the new study.

2.18 COSP: The Inverse-Problem Solver

COSP is the feature of PHOENICS which answers the engineer's TRUE question, which is not "what will happen if .... ?", but "which of the decisions which I can make will most nearly achieve my objective?"

The best source of information about it is the lecture which is displayed by clicking .

Concluding remarks

The above list of unique or especially strong features of PHOENICS is far from being exhaustive. Some others will be mentioned in the present document. Others are described in the PHOENICS on-line-information system,

3. The components of PHOENICS

3.1 The main modules, for input, data-processing and output

PHOENICS performs three main functions:

  1. problem definition (i.e. pre-processing), in which the user prescribes the situation to be simulated and the questions which are to be answered;
  2. simulation (i.e. data-processing), by means of computation, of what the laws of science imply in the prescribed circumstances;
  3. presentation (i.e. post-processing) of the results of the computation, by way of graphical displays, tables of numbers, and other means.

PHOENICS therefore, like many but not all CFD codes, has a distinct software module, or set of modules, for each of the above three functions.

This sub-division allows functions (1) and (3), say, to be performed on the user's home computer, while the power-hungry function (2) is carried out remotely.

of PHOENICS are called:-

  1. SATELLITE (which incorporates also the Virtual-Reality Editor and Viewer)
  2. EARTH (the solver module); and,
  3. PHOTON (which incorporates the graph-plotter, AUTO-PLOT).

Their interrelationships are shown below, albeit with the VR-Viewer displayed on the post-processing side, even though it is part of the SATELLITE module.


3.2 The inter-communication files

The four names in white rectangular boxes in the above diagram refer to files which are used for communication between modules, as follows:

  • Q1, the user-readable input-data file, which is written in PIL, the PHOENICS Input Language, and is the main expression of what the user wishes to achieve.
  • EARDAT, an ASCII file which expresses in EARTH-understandable form what the user has prescribed by way of Q1.
  • PHI, which is written by EARTH in accordance with a format which enables PHOTON, AUTOPLOT and the Viewer to display the results of the computation graphically.
  • RESULT, which is an ASCII file expressing the results in tabular and line-printer-plot form.

It is the Q1 file with which the user has most to do, whether it is:

  1. taken from the extensive Input-File library which forms part of the PHOENICS installation; or
  2. created by way of a text editor, perhaps as a modification of a library file; or
  3. created as part of an interactive SATELLITE session in which the user enters PIL statements at the keyboard, and is assisted to do so correctly by acceptance and non-acceptance responses; or
  4. created without the user's needing knowledge of PIL, by way of the VR-Editor, with its associated menu system.

However it is written, the content of the Q1 file is what dictates how the flow-simulating calculation will proceed.

3.3 Auxiliary modules

SATELLITE, EARTH and PHOTON can be run by issuing the appropriate commands (sat, ear or pho at the command line of Windows or Unix, or by double-clicking on the appropriate line of the Windows desktop.
CHAM has however also provided, for the convenience of users, other means of activating the programs, either individually or in sequence.

It is in fact an enhanced SATELLITE module working in VR-Editor mode.

There are other modules which, in this overview document, it is appropriate to mention only in passing. They are:

  • , which facilitates the creation of faceted objects, around which flow can be computed, and which can also be displayed visually in the "Virtual-Reality interface";
  • , which is a third-party 3D modeler program, bundled with PHOENICS, which can also create faceted objects for the"Virtual-Reality interface";
  • , a utility which creates .dat files suitable for use with the PHOENICS Virtual-Reality User Interface, from possibly-defective STL files produced by CAD and architectural packages.
  • , which facilitates the selection and creation of formulae which are to be automatically translated into Fortran by the PLANT feature of the SATELLITE; and
  • for compressing or "filleting" data files.

3.4 Additional files

Other files of importance, in alphabetical order,include:

  1. CHAM.INI, into which users can insert decisions about modes of operation which they wish only seldom to modify;
  2. CONFIG, which contains the crucial 'unlocking string';
  3. FACETDAT, which is created by SATELLITE, and which contains the geometrical information about the those objects which are described by way of facets;
  4. GROUND.HTM, a Fortran file which is accessible to users, and contains slots for the introduction of the user's own coding sequences;
  5. PHOLOG, which records the key-strokes made during a PHOTON session, in case they need to be repeated;
  6. PBCL.DAT, which is created by EARTH and which is used for recording information, useful for displaying results, about partially-blocked cells,
  7. Q1EAR, which is created at the end of a SATELLITE run and which records, in standardised format, all the implications of the Q1 file for a particular run.
  8. Q2, which, being read by SATELLITE after Q1 and, if it takes place, the interactive session, can contain the user's after-thoughts;
  9. U, from which PHOTON can read display-eliciting commands;
  10. XYZ, which contains the co-ordinates of all cell corners of a 'body-fitted-coordinate' grid.
  11. direct-access forms of the sequential files PHI and XYZ, namely PHIDA and XYZDA.

Information about some of these will be supplied later in this document; and all of them are described in the PHOENICS Encyclopaedia.

3.5 The options

For reasons which are now mainly historical, the coding and the input-file libraries of the EARTH (i.e. solver) module of PHOENICS are arranged in segments called "options".

Newcomers to PHOENICS are bound to encounter some mention of the options, and may suppose their existence to be more important than it is. Therefore the following account is provided.

The original purpose of options was to enable purchasers of PHOENICS licences to reduce their expenditure by taking the "core"; but none, or few, of the options.
Nowadays all options are supplied always.
The names of the options are:

  1. advanced-multiphase
  2. body-fitted-coordinate
  3. advanced-chemistry
  4. GENTRA (particle tracking)
  5. multi-block and fine-grid-embedding
  6. multi-fluid
  7. advanced-algorithms
  8. PLANT fortranizer
  9. advanced-radiation
  10. simultaneous-solid-stress
  11. advanced-turbulence
  12. two-phase

wherein the word 'advanced' is used when the core already includes some capabilities of the kind indicated.

  • the d_earth directory of PHOENICS has d_core, d_opt and (somewhat anomalously) d_vr sub-directories
  • d_core contains open-source Fortran files, and a sub-directory called INPLIB which contains the core input-library files
  • d_opt contains sub-directories:
    1. d_advmph
    2. d_bfc
    3. d_chem
    4. d_gentra
    5. d_mbfgem
    6. d_mfm
    7. d_numalg
    8. d_mig
    9. d_plant
    10. d_rad
    11. d_solstr
    12. d_turb
    13. d_twophs
  • each of these sub-directories contains (or may contain) open-source Fortran files; and
  • each also contains a sub-directory called INPLIB.
  • d_vr contains only a sub-directory called INPLIB, which holds many, but not all, of the library cases which were created by means of the VR-Editor.

As far as the coding is concerned, these names do indicate where the relevant Fortran files are to be found.
However the correspondence between the option names and the contents of the input files is much less direct, for the simple reason that practically-interesting flow simulations often involve several "optional" features, for example two-phase flow and combustion and body-fitted coordinates.

4. Modes of operation

4.1 Distinguishing the modes

PHOENICS modules can be operated in various manners, the choice of which depends on the user's personal preference, experience, and current needs and circumstances.

The following remarks, which are intended to facilitate the proper choice for the problem in hand, are organised under the headings:

  1. command
  2. Q1-editing
  3. text-interactive
  4. menu-interactive
  5. PLANT-using
  6. own-Fortran-using
  7. input from CAD
  8. input from grid-generation packages
  9. output to third-party graphics packages
  10. mixed

4.2 The command mode

By command mode is meant the entering of commands at the DOS or UNIX prompt by way of the keyboard, no other response being expected but that of execution.

The command mode is appropriate for what might be called "production runs", i.e. those flow-simulating calculations for which:

  • the input data have already been determined, and are embodied in identified Q1 files;
  • the nature of the required output has also been settled, and is expressed either in the Q1s themselves or in "macros", i.e. (U files) for PHOTON;
  • there is no requirement for the user to intervene in the calculation process.

This mode is preferred by users who, perhaps having spent some day-time hours preparing a series of Q1s, wish to have the runs executed overnight, possibly by way of the PHOENICS facility.

CHAM's quality-control procedures, for example, entail the performance of many hundreds of such "test-battery runs" each night, followed by comparison of the results with those which are expected, so as to detect whether any change made to the software has had an inadvertent consequence.

However, newcomers to PHOENICS may also wish to use the command mode at the start, confining themselves to executing ready-to-run cases, or 'active demos' via the Commander or Environment.

The command mode is also appropriate when the constant-optimising procedure is in use; for this involves running the EARTH solver module in perpetuum mobile mode, until the sought-for goal has been attained.

The commands supplied with the PHOENICS installation are described in the entry of the PHOENICS Encyclopaedia; but the user is of course free to embody these into others which he or she prefers.

4.3 The Q1-editing mode

What happens in a flow-simulating calculation made by PHOENICS is, as has been already stated, entirely controlled by the contents of the Q1 file, expressed via the PHOENICS Input Language, PIL.

Many users, especially those having months or years of experience, therefore prefer to take full control of the calculation by writing the Q1 for themselves.

However, even new or infrequent users, who are likely to prefer one of the interactive modes of operation, may like to know that these modes are there only to make Q1-writing easy.

The merits of the Q1-editing mode of operation are:

  1. speed, especially if the required Q1 can be created by making minor changes to one which has been used successfully before, for example one of the many hundreds in the PHOENICS Input-File libraries supplied with the installation;
  2. certainty that no well-meant but inappropriate settings made by the writers of the menus can have over-written what the user intended;
  3. freedom for the user to employ his or her personal style and to include helpful annotations;
  4. the ability to exploit the numerous features of PIL which cannot be introduced interactively; for example:
    1. DO loops
    2. IF ..... THEN .... ELSE constructs
    3. file-handling statements such as INCL and INTRPT
    6. GOTO .... LABEL
    7. READVDU
    8. MESG(
    9. The wide range of commands which are associated with , the powerful new Input-of-FORMula feature.
    and many others.

The disadvantage, of course, is that knowledge of PIL is needed; and this can be only gradually acquired.

However, those who intend to become serious long-term users of PHOENICS, and to exploit more than the most superficial of its flow-simulating capabilities, should recognise that they may need to master at least the rudiments of PIL; for the VR Editor can not do everything for them.

Full information about can be found in the PHOENICS Encyclopaedia.

There also exist some

It may be remarked that the Q1-editing mode can also control the subsequent running of PHOTON; for this is so programmed that, if there exists in the local directory a file called "u" or "U", it will take instructions from it.

Then, if that file contains simply the line: "USE Q1", PHOTON will look in the Q1 file for, and obey, instructions between the lines:

Many input-library Q1s contain such PHOTON-instruction sequences.

The VR-Viewer can also use such Q1 files as macros to display a similar sequence of images.

4.4 The text-interactive mode

The PHOENICS SATELLITE module can be caused to run in such a mode that, once the existing Q1 has been interpreted, the program awaits the entry of further PIL statements by way of the keyboard.

The relevant commands are txt.

The new statements, if they contain no errors, are then accepted as augmenting or replacing the existing statements; and they are added to the end of the Q1 file.

If the new statements infringe the rules of PIL in some way, they are rejected; then an explanation of the reason for rejection appears on the screen.

The text-mode SATELLITE also permits the introduction, modification or deletion of lines which are not immediately interpreted; for it has its own built-in Q1-editor.

[Therefore what has been said above about the inability of the interactive mode to introduce DO loops and other features is somewhat too strong; for they can be introduced via the built-in editor, in text-interactive mode.

However most users nowadays prefer to use a stand-alone text editor for creating all but the simplest Q1s.]

It should be remarked that PHOTON can also be run in text-interactive mode, which is indeed the default. Commands typed at the keyboard, so long as they are among those recognised by PHOTON, are responded to immediately.

A list of such commands is provided by the file.

PHOTON also has the facility to record the user's actions in a pholog file, which can be later hand-edited and re-named as a u macro. Similarly, the VR-Viewer can save a macro file which can then be used to re-create the same image from another data set.

These facilities are valuable because of their person-time-saving potential. Interacting with a graphical-display package is often enjoyable; but, since humans cost more than computers, it can be the most expensive part of a CFD-using operation.

4.5 The menu-interactive mode

The second method of interactive problem specification is via the SATELLITE menu, which is usually, but not necessarily, associated with the use of the VR-Editor; the latter represents visually what the already-accepted data are.

This mode can be entered:

  • from the DOS or UNIX command prompts;
  • from the text-interactive mode by issue of the appropriate PIL commands;
  • from the Commander or Environment by clicking on the appropriate buttons.

The advantage of using this mode is that some settings are made by simple mouse-clicks, and others by typing numbers into boxes; so it can be used by those who have no knowledge of the nature or meaning of PIL variables or the syntax of the statements which set their values.

The disadvantage is, as already mentioned, that only a sub-set of the desirable PIL settings can be made in this way; and moreover:

  • not only can logic-using PIL statements such as DO loops not be inserted,
  • those which are already present in the Q1 when the interactive session starts will be omitted from the Q1 which is finally written.

The use of this mode of problem specification is described in for beginners and in for more advanced users.

PHOTON also can be operated in menu mode, as well as text mode. This is convenient for users who do not remember, or have never learned, what are the commands which PHOTON otherwise needs.

The VR-Viewer, which is the alternative results-display module, and which has the merit of giving the flow domain an appearance which is wholly compatible with that presented by the VR-Editor, can be operated in menu mode, or it can read commands from a macro file.

4.6 The PLANT-using mode

For those users (a diminishing proportion, it may be remarked) who find the already-described methods of problem-specification insufficient, the next recourse is to introduce PLANT formulae into the Q1 files, and so allow the SATELLITE to:

  • interpret them;
  • convert them into their Fortran equivalents; and
  • write the corresponding 'GROUND' file.

Thereafter the file is compiled, the new EARTH executable built, and the run executed, without further user intervention. The PLANT lines can be introduced into the Q1 file in either of two ways, namely:

  1. direct editing, which requires some acquaintance with PLANT-formula terminology and syntax, and
  2. interaction with the PLANT-menu utility, which does not.

4.7 The own-Fortran-using mode

There do exist PHOENICS users who would rather introduce their own Fortran coding than find out whether, or how, what they want can be provided by PLANT.

Such users need to learn how GROUND coding interacts with EARTH; but this is not difficult, because the extensive open-source components of PHOENICS provide many examples which users can follow.

Further, PHOENICS is equipped with numerous 'service' subroutines, calls to which can be incorporated into the user's coding.

The in the PHOENICS Encyclopaedia provides further explanations and examples.

4.8 Input from CAD

Very often, CFD analysis is required for a situation which has been already defined geometrically by way of a Computer-Aided-Drawing (CAD) package.

The definition is then usually expressed by way of one or more STL or DXF files, which it is necessary to import into PHOENICS.

This task is made extremely easy for the user, because The PHOENICS SATELLITE is itself able to read STL and DXF files, and to convert them into the format which it employs for display in its Virtual-Reality Editor and Viewer.

The details of how this is done are explained in the

Below is shown an example of residential buildings displayed in the VR-Editor. The CAD file was created by way of the well-known AUTOCAD package. This CAD file in STL format was polished by PHOENICS, and then imported into PHOENICS-VR in a few seconds, rotated, and somewhat re-sized.


4.9 Input from grid-generation packages

The PHOENICS SATELLITE has its own several ways of creating body-fitted-coordinate grids; and such grids can be created also via PLANT or by means of user-created Fortran coding attached to EARTH.

However some users prefer to use a third-party grid-generation package .

PHOENICS also is equipped with its own Generic Interfacing Environment, which is capable of converting grids created by other packages into PHOENICS-usable format.

GENIE can also convert PHI files produced by PHOENICS into formats usable by third-party graphics packages.

4.10 Output to graphics-display packages

Typical of the third-party graphics packages with which PHOENICS can interact is

The following picture shows streamlines in a duct into which flow two streams from transverse ducts. The computational grid was created with the aid of GeoGrid; PHOENICS was used in multi-block mode; and the graphics display was prepared by means of TECPLOT.


4.11 The mixed mode

There is no "mixed mode" as such. This section is therefore provided simply as a place for stating that experienced users of PHOENICS rarely use one mode only; and that they are certainly not forced to do so by PHOENICS.

Indeed, users of PHOENICS are more likely to complain about the over-large range of different ways which PHOENICS offers for doing essentially the same thing.

It is for this reason that section 4 of the document has been provided.

5. Getting started

By way of:

Preliminary note

After installation of PHOENICS, four icons should be present on the desk-top, entitled:

  1. PHOENICS Commander
  3. WINDF
  4. POLIS

The first three correspond to the next three sub-section of this document; the fourth leads to the main on-line information source about PHOENICS, of which the Encyclopaedia is the most-often used.

5.1 Getting started via the PHOENICS Commander

The easiest way to get started is to activate the 'PHOENICS Commander', either by clicking on the desk-top icon created at installation time or by entering the command pc at the command prompt.

What should then appear on the screen is something like (for refinements are constantly being introduced) this:


The screen messages explain the functions which each button leads to. It is re-printed below.

The buttons along the top edge provide access to the PHOENICS Computational Fluid Dynamics Software Package. Specifically:

  • The 'New User' button will lead you to a page designed for beginners, which enables them to learn about PHOENICS, to see it in action, and to 'test-drive' it.
  • 'About PHOENICS' opens up the full treasury of information about the nature and capabilities of the software.
  • 'Input-File Libraries' leads to many hundreds of flow-simulation cases which you can run for yourself, with such modifications as you care to introduce.
  • 'Run modules' enables you, when you are ready, to run individual modules of the package, without either restriction or close guidance.
  • 'Edit Files' enables you to inspect or modify those files of the PHOENICS package which interest you.

The buttons on the left are:

  • Display Options: to change colour, font and other visual features of the Commander.
  • Enable Editing: to bring an 'edit page' button into view. This enables you to modify, if you wish, the page which you are looking at.
  • Choose Working Directory: i.e. the folder containing the files you are working with. Most users prefer to create a different working directory for each project.
    The default working directory is: /phoenics/d_privpc.
  • Choose Versions: if alternatives exist.
  • Run vre: to run the PHOENICS VR-Environment module. This is provided for experienced users of PHOENICS, who will probably wish to use the next button also.
  • Ready to run: a selection of ready-to-run cases from the input-file library, arranged so as to enable you to run:
    Satellite, for the input of data
    EARTH, for running the executable, and
    PHOTON or Viewer, for graphical display of results.

New users are strongly advised to advised to press the new-user button, whereupon they should see a screen like this.

'Quick start' is there for the impatient; 'slower start' for the more cautious, and 'tutorials' for those who are desire even more guidance.

Thereafter, judicious choice of ready-to-run cases will provide an excellent preparation for later work with PHOENICS.

5.2 Getting started via the VR-Editor

If the just-described Commander route has been fully explored, the PHOENICS Virtual-Reality interface will already have been encountered and exercised.

However, an alternative and more varied approach is to proceed by studying the document TR 324, "Starting with PHOENICS-VR", which is accessible by way of the POLIS button and the 'documentation' and 'hard-copy documentation' links to which it leads.

Those proceeding by this route are advised either to follow the instructions printed in the hard-copy version of the document, if they have one, or to do so by keeping its open in a separate window.

A warning should be expressed at this juncture: despite the many things that the VR-Editor can do, it cannot unleash the full potential of PHOENICS.

Since newcomers to PHOENICS often have the desire to embark immediately on some very ambitious flow-simulation tasks, they are sometimes disappointed to discover that these cannot be launched from the VR-Editor.

They will then need to dig a little deeper into the documentation, helped if they so request by CHAM's user-support team, in order to learn how the PHOENICS Input Language, and especially its In-Form and PLANT features, will enable them to achieve their objectives.

They can however rest assured that there are few known flow-simulation problems which PHOENICS can not solve.

5.3 Getting started via the command mode

Those users who prefer always to be in complete control of what they are doing may prefer to start at the command prompt, and issue simple commands only, until their confidence has grown sufficiently to allow more complex ones.

The DOS command prompt can be brought to the screen by double-clicking the 'windf' icon, the name of which stands (rather inappropriately) for Windows Digital Fortran.

The working directory should then be found to be:

Users whose practice it is to employ such auxiliary programs as The Norton Commander, or FAR, may find it convenient to activate one of them at this point. But this is not essential.

If the installation has been fully successful, the 'path' associated with the Window should include:
\phoenics\d_utils and

However, if it does not, the full-path-name alternatives to the commands mentioned below should be employed.

(a) A do-nothing run

In order to start the VR Editor in command mode, the command to issue is: modq1, which places a in the local directory.

The DOS DIR command will reveal whether it is present. [If it is not, try typing the full path-name of the command which is:
\phoenics\d_utils\modq1 ]

The command edit q1 will show the content of this file, exhibiting the standardised data-group structure of PHOENICS, but making no non-default data settings whatsoever.

A suitable command to issue next is txt [full path-name: \phoenics\d_utils\d_windf\txt], which activates the SATELLITE module in text-interactive mode. The resulting screen image is as follows:


This gives the user an opportunity to enter data; but, if the opportunity is not taken, and the session is immediately terminated, it will be found that:

  • the Q1 file has been left unchanged,
  • a Q1EAR file has been created, in which all the settings are the defaults, and
  • that an EARDAT file has been created, of which the same is true.

If then the command ear is issued, the solver module, EARTH, will run; but it will terminate very quickly, producing a RESULT file of which the small content indicates that no simulation has actually been performed.

(b) Exploring the text-interactive SATELLITE

If the process is repeated, but this time the opportunity to insert data interactively is taken, the methodical explorer will probably proceed in small steps, for example as follows:-

  • Pressing function-key 2 will cause the command mode to be entered.
  • Entering: NX
    will elicit the response: NX=1, which is the default value of the number of grid intervals in the x-direction..
  • Entering: NX=10 will set the value of that quantity correspondingly.
  • This can be confirmed by entering: NX
    to which the screen's response will be: NX=10.
  • Entering: SOLVED
    will elicit a screen response which indicates that no variables are being solved.
  • Entering: SOLVE(P1)
    followed by: SOLVED
    will produce a screen message which indicates that P1, which is the first-phase-pressure variable, is being solved.
  • These actions will have altered the Q1 file, the bottom of which can be seen by entering: LB
    with the result that the screen shows:
  • In this way, step-by-step, a complete Q1 can be built up; however short cuts can be taken. Thus, by entering:
    the user can cause the Q1 to be augmented by the complete set of commands which constitute core-library case 100.
  • Thereafter he or she can:
    • determine what the settings are by entering the names of the variables;
    • make settings by entering:
    • by using the built-in editor and the I (for insert), L (for list) and D (for delete) commands, make more elaborate modifications.

This is not the place for a comprehensive presentation of the PHOENICS Input Language, . However, enough has perhaps been written to indicate its general character, and the way in which the PHOENICS SATELLITE responds to it.

(c) Exploring the menu-interactive SATELLITE

If the command m2 is entered at the command prompt, the SATELLITE is activated in "menu-2" mode.

What then appears on the screen is as shown below. It is the top panel of the menu which is associated with, but is distinct from, the VR editor.


The exploration-minded user will wish to click on the buttons at the top of the panel so as to access deeper levels, at which settings can be made by mouse clicks or the typing in of numbers.

Then, having returned to click on OK, he or she will quit the program, and thereafter examine the Q1 and Q1EAR files which have been created.

It will be observed from the above image that this menu does allow a library case to be loaded, if its number is known. Then the settings made by it are displayed in the appropriate boxes of the menu, and can be altered by the user.

ear thereafter launches an EARTH run as before.

Then pho launches a PHOTON run; and vrv activates the VR-Viewer.

6. Physical and mathematical content of PHOENICS

6.1 Conventional features

PHOENICS has all the features which are common to commercial CFD codes; indeed it pioneered them. Since the present document is an overview rather than a text-book, it has been judged sufficient here simply to list the conventional features, under two headings, namely:

  1. physical, and
  2. mathematical.

Thereafter some of the less conventional features of PHOENICS will be given more attention.

(a) Physical

  • PHOENICS simulates flow phenomena which are:
    • laminar or turbulent
    • compressible or incompressible
    • steady or unsteady
    • chemically inert or reactive
    • single- or multi-phase
    • in respect of thermal radiation:
      • transparent
      • participating by way of absorption and emission
      • participating by way of scattering.
  • The space in which the fluid flows may be:
    • empty of solids, or
    • wholly or partially filled by finely-divided solids at rest (as in 'porous-medium' flows), or
    • partially occupied by solids which are not small compared with the size of the local computational cells.
  • In the latter two cases, the solids may interact thermally with the solids (that is to say that PHOENICS can handle 'conjugate heat transfer').
  • Such immersed solids can also participate in radiative heat transfer.
  • The thermally and mechanically-induced stresses and strains in the immersed solids can also be computed by PHOENICS.
  • The thermodynamic, transport (including radiative), chemical and other properties of the fluids and solids may be of arbitrary complexity.

(b) Mathematical

for a more extended treatment.

  • The equations solved by PHOENICS are those which express the balances of:
    • mass
    • momentum
    • energy
    • material (ie chemical species)
    • other conserved entities (e.g. electrical charge)
    over discrete elements of space and time, i.e. 'finite volumes' known as 'cells'.
  • The cells are arranged in an orderly (i.e. "structured") manner in a grid which may be:
    • cartesian,
    • cylindrical-polar, or
    • "body-fitted", i.e. arbitrarily curvi-linear,
    and which may be segmented into distinct "blocks".

    2008 update

    Since 2006, PHOENICS has had additionally an unstructured option, namely USP (UnStructured PHOENICS). A description is to be found by clicking

  • These equations express the influences of:
    • diffusion (including viscous action and heat conduction),
    • convection,
    • variation with time,
    • sources and sinks.
  • In order to reduce the numerical errors which may result from the unsymmetrical nature of the convection terms, PHOENICS can make use of a large variety of 'higher-order schemes', including QUICK, SMART, Van Leer, and many others.
  • The dependent variables of these equations are thus:
    • mass or volume fraction,
    • velocity and pressure,
    • temperature or enthalpy,
    • concentration,
    • electrical charge or other conserved property.
  • The mass and momentum equations are solved in a semi-coupled manner by a variant of the well-known SIMPLE algorithm.
  • Because the whole equation system is non-linear, the solution procedure is iterative, consisting of the steps of:
    • computing the imbalances of each of the above entities for each cell;
    • computing the coefficients of linear(ised) equations which represent how the imbalances will change as a consequence of (small) changes to the solved-for variables;
    • solving the linear equations;
    • correcting the values of solved-for variables, and of auxiliary ones, such as fluid properties, which depend upon them:
    • repeating the cycle of operations until the changes made to the variables are sufficiently small.
  • Various techniques are used for solving the linear equations, including:
    • tri-diagonal matrix algorithm
    • (a variant of) Stone's 'Strongly Implicit Algorithm',
    • conjugate-gradient and conjugate-residual solvers.

6.2 Simulation of multi-phase flow in PHOENICS

"Multi-phase flows" are those involving, to name but a few examples:-

  • steam and water in a boiler,
  • air and sand in a desert storm,
  • fuel droplets and combustion gases in an engine,
  • a layer of oil, floating on the surface of a river.

PHOENICS was the first general-purpose computer code to be able to simulate multi-phase flows; and it is still capable of doing so more effectively, and in a greater variety of ways, than most of its competitors.

Multi-phase-flow phenomena can be simulated by PHOENICS in four distinct ways. These are:

  1. as , each having at every point in the space-time domain under consideration, its own:
    velocity components, temperature, composition, density, viscosity, volume fraction, etc;
  2. as having the same range of properties;
  3. as , separated by a free surface;
  4. as for which the particle trajectories are computed as they move through a continuous fluid.

Details of how PHOENICS performs its simulations can be discovered by on-line viewers by clicking on the above links to the .

6.3 Turbulence models in PHOENICS

Why turbulence models are used

The flows which PHOENICS is called upon to simulate are, more often than not, turbulent, by which is meant that they exhibit near-random fluctuations, the time-scale of which is very small compared with the time-scale of the mean-flow, and of which the distance scale is small compared with the dimensions of the domain under study.

Since the beginning of the practice of computational fluid dynamics, in the 1960's, the impracticability (or, more precisely, the prohibitive expense) of predicting these fluctuations has resulted in the invention of "turbulence models" which represent, to some extent, their results.

The subject is too large to deal with in this Overview; but the lectures and other documentation provided with the PHOENICS package contain much information. Typical is the lecture entitled


A broad-brush summary of the satisfactoriness of the most-widely-used turbulence models is:

  • for predicting time-average hydrodynamic phenomena and the macro-mixing of fluids marked by conserved scalars, the models are "not bad"; but
  • for the simulation of micro-mixing, which is essential if chemical-reaction rates are to be predicted, they are very poor indeed; and
  • the most distressing aspect of the last-mentioned point is that it is not sufficiently recognised by the users of the models.

Turbulence models in PHOENICS

PHOENICS is particularly rich in turbulence models, as can be seen from the relevant .

Two of these are of special interest, because they are unique to PHOENICS, namely:

  1. The is most useful in circumstances in which many solids are immersed in the fluid, making conventional "two-equation" models impractical.

    It handles the complete range of Reynolds number smoothly; and it contains its own unique and simple method for calculating the distances to and between walls.

  2. possesses more radical novelty; for it provides a direct means of computing the quantities of practical importance, so supplanting the conventional indirect means.

    MFM is especially useful for simulating turbulent-combustion processes, about which several lectures are supplied with the PHOENICS package, for example , and .

6.4 Radiative-heat-transfer models in PHOENICS

PHOENICS is supplied with several means of computing thermal radiation, all of which are described in the

A method which is unique to PHOENICS, and is especially convenient when radiating surfaces are so numerous, and variously arranged, that the use of the view-factor-type model is impractically expensive, is .

This method is:

  • computationally inexpensive;
  • capable of handling the whole range of conditions from optically-thin (ie transparent) to optically-thick (ie opaque) media;
  • mathematically exact when the geometry is simple; and
  • never grossly inaccurate even when it is not,

examples of its use may be seen by clicking .

IMMERSOL is particularly useful for electronics-cooling problems, and is an important feature of .

6.5 Chemical-reaction processes in PHOENICS

From its beginning in 1981, PHOENICS has been used for simulating processes involving chemical-reaction processes, and especially those involving combustion.

It continues to be heavily used for these purposes, both by and others, e.g. .

PHOENICS can handle the combustion of gaseous, liquid (e.g. oil-spray) and solid (eg pulverized-coal) fuels.

Chemical reactions are simulated by PHOENICS in several ways, including:

  • , "the Simple Chemically Reacting System" built into user-accessible Fortran coding (which users may modify, but need not even look at);
  • , a set of user-callable subroutines which handle the thermodynamics and finite-rate or equilibrium chemical kinetics of complex chemical reactions;
  • , the public-domain code to which PHOENICS has an interface,
  • , which enables users to introduce new reaction schemes and material properties by way of formulae introduced into the data-input command file, Q1.

6.6 "Simultaneous solid-stress analysis"

The need for simultaneous solid-stress and fluid-flow analysis

It is frequently required to simulate fluid-flow and heat-transfer processes in and around solids which are, partly as a consequence of the flow, subject to thermal and mechanical stresses.

Often, indeed, it is the stresses which are of major concern, while the fluid and heat flows are of only secondary interest.

Engineering examples of fluid/heat/stress interactions include:

  • gas-turbine blades under transient conditions;
  • "residual stresses" resulting from casting or welding;
  • thermal stresses in nuclear reactors during emergency shut-down;
  • manufacture of bricks and ceramics;
  • stresses in the cylinder blocks of diesel engines;
  • the failure of steel-frame buildings during fires.

It has been customary for two computer codes to be used for the solution of such problems, one for the fluid flow and the other for the stresses

Iterative interaction between the two codes is then employed, often with considerable inconvenience.

PHOENICS, however, makes it possible for fluid flow, heat flow and solid deformation, and the interactions between them, all to be calculated at the same time.

It does so by exploiting the similarity between the equations governing velocity (in fluids) and those governing displacement (in solids).

How this is done

  • the equations governing the displacements are very similar to those governing the velocities.
  • PHOENICS can calculate velocities in fluids; but this ability is not needed in the solid region.
  • However, PHOENICS can be "tricked" into calculating what it "thinks" are velocities everywhere; whereas what it actually calculates in the solid regions are displacements.
  • The strains (ie extensions ex, ey and ez) are obtained from differentiation of the computed displacements.


    ex = [d/dx] U

    ey = [d/dx] V

    ez = [d/dx] W

  • Then the corresponding:
    • normal stresses, sx, sy, sz, and
    • shear stresses tauxy, tauyz, tauzx,
    are obtained from the strains by way of equations such as:

    sx = {YM / (1 - PR2)} {ex + PRey} and

    tauxy = {YM / (1 - PR2)} {0.5 (1 - PR)gamxy}


    • gamxy = [d/dy]U - [d/dx]V
  • All that it is necessary to do, in order to solve for displacements simultaneously, is, in solid regions, to treat the dilatation B as the mass-source error and to ensure that p obeys the above linear relation to it.
  • Therefore PHOENICS can be made to solve the displacement equations by:
    1. eliminating the convection terms (ie setting Re low); and
    2. making D linearly dependent on p and temperature T.
  • The "staggered grid" used as the default in PHOENICS proves to be extremely convenient for solid-displacement analysis; for the velocities and displacements are stored at exactly the right places in relation to the dilatations.

A more complete explanation is contained in a lecture which may be accessed

6.7 "Parabolic, Hyperbolic Or Elliptic"

  1. The above words appear in the expansion of the ; and for good reasons, having practical significance.
  2. "Parabolic" flows are those, such as steady jets, boundary layers and wakes, from which reverse flow is absent. If the Reynolds number is not too low, all influences flow from upstream to downstream; so the calculation can proceed in the same way.
  3. PHOENICS, perhaps still alone among the general-purpose computer codes, exploits this opportunity; the result is a great reduction in computer time and memory requirements. In effect, two-dimensional storage suffices for a three-dimensional problem.

    For further information, including graphical displays, .

  4. Where the velocity is subsonic, use of the parabolic option involves neglect (usually justifiable) of the cross-stream pressure variations. However, where the velocity is supersonic, this is no longer necessary.

    PHOENICS can handle these so-called "hyperbolic" flows with the same economy as the parabolic ones. Some examples may be seen by, clicking .

  5. Flows which are neither parabolic nor hyperbolic, i.e. all the others, are called "elliptic"; for them, allowance has to be made for influences to travel in all directions; so three-dimensional storage must be used.

    Since this is expensive, it should be used only when necessary. PHOENICS, uniquely, enables the user to make the choice.

6.8 Body-fitting in PHOENICS

  1. PHOENICS can use any one of three types of coordinate system for describing the space in which it performs its computations, namely:
    • cartesian,
    • cylindrical-polar,
    • curvilinear (but still with six-faced cells) for fitting bodies of arbitrary shape.
  2. PHOENICS was the first general-purpose CFD code to be enabled to compute flows around such bodies by using "body-fitted-coordinate (i.e. BFC) grids"; and it still possesses perhaps the widest range of means of doing so.
  3. PHOENICS possesses its own built-in means of generating such grids; but it can also accept grids created by specialist packages.
  4. Not all CFD codes have a BFC capability; and of those which do not, some employ other means of permitting flows around arbitrarily-curved surfaces to be accurately computed. PHOENICS too has such a capability, called .
  5. PARSOL allows flows around curved bodies to be computed on cartesian grids; and the solutions are often just as accurate as those computed on body-fitted grids. The following figure exemplifies the use of PARSOL for "body-fitting" rather literally: figure
  6. The user of PHOENICS therefore can choose for him or her self which method to use, according to requirements for accuracy, personal preference and limitations of time.

6.9 Fine-grid embedding

  1. The first embodiment in PHOENICS of fine-grid embedding (FGEM) was made in connexion with the , which employed body-fitted coordinates.
  2. Subsequently, the FGEM method was generalised so that it could work with any coordinate system, of which the cartesian grid, being most commonly used, and computationally efficient, is perhaps the most important.

    The creation of fine-grid regions is particularly easy now that it can be effected by way of .

  3. The use of FGEM for the calculation of flow around an automobile is illustrated .
  4. Especially when combined with the technique, it makes the use of body-fitted coordinates less-often needed, as the following, which shows an application to a three-part airfoil, powerfully suggests: figure

6.10 Parallel PHOENICS

  1. The architecture of PHOENICS has proved to be especially well-suited to parallelisation, because of the "slab-wise" arrangement of its data-structure. This was adopted in the 1980s, as a means of economising computer memory, which was necessary at the time.
  2. Although that need has disappeared, the slab-wise arrangement made "domain-decomposition", the parallelization strategy chosen by CHAM, especially easy to implement.
  3. Its most usual implementation involves "z-direction splitting", in which the whole three-dimensional grid is broken into as many sub-grids as there are processors available for use; however splitting in other directions is also allowed.
  4. Transfer of information from one sub-grid to its neighbours is carried out within the innermost iteration loops of the solution algorithm.
  5. To ensure the efficiency of this transfer, a conjugate-gradient solver is used.
  6. Information on performance can be obtained by if on-line.

the goal-seeker

What it is.

COSP is an acronym for "Constant Optimising Software Package". It started its life as a stand-alone package which "drove" PHOENICS; but it is now an integral part of PHOENICS itself.

When operating in COSP mode, PHOENICS solves what are often called "inverse" problems, i.e. those in which the task is to find what input data will lead to flow simulations which accord with some specified criteria.

Examples are:

  1. Determining what values of constants in empirically-based physical models, utilised by PHOENICS, best fit a prescribed set of experimental data.
  2. What geometrical or boundary-condition input data will cause the predicted performance of some equipment to be closest to some desired specification.
  3. what values of numerical values such as relaxation factors promote the most rapid convergence?

How COSP works

  • When the COSP feature of PHOENICS is used for constant-optimising tasks of type 1 above, it takes as inputs:
    1. a Q1 file of multi-run type, which defines the experimental conditions which PHOENICS is required to simulate;
    2. a "target data" file which contains the experimental data, for each of these conditions, with which it is desired that the PHOENICS predictions should agree;
    3. a preliminary set of values of the constants which it is desired to optimise;
    4. information about how close a fit it is desired to achieve.
  • PHOENICS multi-runs are then performed in repeated cycles.
  • At the end of each cycle,
    • the predictions are compared with the target data;
    • a new set of constants is then selected in accordance with a systematic error-minimising strategy;
    • the eardat file is correspondingly changed; and
    • a new multi-run is then conducted.
  • Cycles are terminated when the errors have been sufficiently reduced.
  • Similar proceedings take place when the optimisation task is of type 2 or type 3.

The future of COSP

It might reasonably be said the COSP represents the first step towards answering the designer's real CFD question, which is often not, 'What will the flow be if I choose these inflow conditions?' but rather 'What inflow conditions will give me the flow that I want?'

That being so, the future for COSP appears very bright.

7. Special-purpose versions of PHOENICS

7.1 Introduction

  • PHOENICS was conceived from the start as a code series, as the "S" in its bears witness.
  • The concept derives from the recognition that the relevant laws of physics, and the methods of solving their equations, being universal, can be embodied in a single software package, which can then be used for numerous special sectors.
  • The concept is also reflected in the use of the names:
    • "SATELLITE" for the data-input modules which would embody the special-sector features, and
    • "EARTH" for the "universal" equation-solving module with which they would interact.
  • The concept is illustrated by the following picture, from one of the earliest documents about PHOENICS. figure
  • Although things have not worked out quite as foreseen (because the SATELLITE module now also contains many universal features), the basic idea has stood the test of time.
  • The current list of special-purpose programs is as follows: A special-purpose version of PHOENICS has been created with the collaboration of European partners: Siemens, the University of Delft, and the Fraunhofer Institute. Electrolytic aluminium smelters of the 'Hall-cell' type involve complex interactions of:
    • a layer of oxygen-gas bubbles in the vicinity of the anode;
    • an upper fluid layer of molten electrolyte,
    • a lower fluid layer of liquid aluminium,
    • a bath-like container made of carbon,
    • electrical currents and magnetic fields, and
    • the force of gravity which ensures, usually, that the liquid metal does not touch the anode.

    The special-purpose PHOENICS program known as ESTER has been in use for simulating the flows in Hall-Cell reactors for many years.

    The flow of air, heat and smoke inside buildings and other enclosures has been subjected to study by PHOENICS (and its predecessors in this sector, MOSIE, and JASMINE) for many years.

    This special-application area of CFD was one of those selected for attention in the EC-funded MICA project, in which one of the collaborating partners was the UK Building Research Establishment.

    The lessons learned have been incorporated into the special-purpose version of PHOENICS known as FLAIR, which is widely used by HVAC (i.e. heating, ventilating and air-conditioning) engineers.

    Electronic equipment needs to be kept cool if it is to perform properly. Therefore the prediction of temperatures (and especially peak temperatures) within it is of great importance for designers.

    CHAM has been assisting electronics engineers with this for more than a decade, its specific offering being the special-purpose code HOTBOX.

    This now uses the Virtual-Reality interface in order to facilitate both the setting up of problems and the display of results; and its use of the IMMERSOL radiation model and the LVEL turbulence model enable it to combine physical realism with computational economy.

    Oil spills in rivers and other natural waters occur all-too frequently; and, when they occur, the environmental damage may be severe.

    The PHOENICS special-purpose program which simulates the development and motion of oil spills in rivers is called ROSA; and it has been extensively validated during studies made in the ex-Soviet Union, where oil spills have been prevalent.

    It can also be applied to estuaries and coastal waters.

    Account is taken of evaporation and dissolution, as well as of the relative motion of the oil slick and the underlying water.

    Blast furnaces for iron-ore smelting, and other shaft furnaces of the metallurgical industry involve the flow and interaction of (at least) four phases, namely:-
    • upward-moving gas;
    • particles of coal or droplets of oil carried by the gas;
    • downward-moving coke and ore; and
    • liquid metal and slag flowing downward more rapidly.

    CHAM created a special-purpose program for simulating the processes in such furnaces within the framework of an EC-funded project called OSIRIS. Its name is SAFIR.

    This program exploits several unique-to-PHOENICS modelling features; and it is the first to be able to represent properly the four-phase nature of the process.

    Natural-draft cooling towers are, in some countries, important components of coal-, gas- and oil-fired power stations; for a single degree of difference in the temperature of the cooling water which they provide can make a significant difference to the thermal efficiency of the station.

    The TACT special-purpose version of PHOENICS enables the performance of both natural- and assisted-draft cooling towers to be predicted, as influenced by:

    • air temperature,
    • air humidity,
    • wind speed and direction,
    • tower dimensions,
    • packing height, thickness and configuration, and
    • water-flow-rate distribution.

8. Sources of further information

References have been made at many points in this overview to sources of further information. Here therefore it should suffice to make only a few summarising remarks, as follows:

  • the On-line information system
    When first devised, this was a stand-alone information-browsing program. Now that web-browsers are available to all, the name has been retained for a particular gateway into information supplied by CHAM to the users of PHOENICS; this is now inspected by means of the local browser. Much of the material is also accessible on CHAM's website.
  • This continuously growing body of information is intended to provide, in accessible form, all the information that users of PHOENICS are likely to need. That it fails to attain this near-impossible goal, its creators freely admit; but the fact that it can be easily and instantly up-dated, without the long waits associated with the production of hard-copy documents, is the reason for CHAM's adopting it as a major communication means.
  • is provided in various ways, especially for users of the SATELLITE and PHOTON modules. What is seen by clicking on the POLIS Help link is a collection of items which can be accessed from the VR user interface.
  • Many results of past uses of PHOENICS have been collected together and arranged in a kind of 'museum' called the 'Applications Album'. Some which are rather old, indeed 'museum-pieces' in another sense, have been allowed to stay in order that visitors can appreciate that CHAM and PHOENICS have been in the CFD business for a long time.
  • CHAM's practice is to make as much as possible of its descriptive and educational material available to its users. The above link therefore leads not only to a series of lectures which cover the main topics of PHOENICS in a systematic manner, but also to 'occasional' lectures, i.e. those devised for particular audiences and particular times.

End of TR 001

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