Convergent Science Eyes Gas Compression

Founded in 1997 by graduate students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Convergent Science began as a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) consulting company. Today, Convergent Science is a specialist in CFD software with more than 100 employees and offices in the United States, Austria, and India.

Convergent Science introduced its first CFD software in 2008, targeting internal combustion (IC) engines. The success of its CONVERGE CFD software led Convergent Science into other markets, as fluid dynamics also describe events inside jet engines, catalytic convertors, and pumps.

In 2015, the team at Convergent Science found a paper published for the European Forum for Reciprocating Compressors that discussed the valve dynamics of flow-driven plate valves on a reciprocating gas compressor. According to Kelly Senecal, owner and vice president of Convergent Science, the motion of the piston was identical to how they set up the piston motion in IC engine simulations.

“We used our fluid-structure interaction model to simulate the plate valve dynamics and the pressure wave propagation in the various flow chambers. We were gratified to see how easy it was to apply our existing tools to gain insight on this type of problem,” said Senecal. “We have used what we learned in this first application to provide benefit to several other organizations using CONVERGE to simulate compressors.”

With its success in compressor simulation, the company is now offering its CONVERGE CFD software to the gas compression market. Gas Compression Magazine recently sat down with Senecal to discuss the company, the software, and its entry into the gas compression market.

What prompted the initial development of CONVERGE CFD?

Eric Pomraning, Keith Richards, Daniel Lee, and I studied CFD in graduate school at UW-Madison in the Engine Research Center. We became good enough at IC engine CFD simulations that we started our own CFD consulting business. We were using a free CFD code at the time and we realized just how much of our time was spent creating the mesh. We knew there had to be a better way. We put our heads together and wrote a CFD code that completely removed the user meshing step from the setup process. Once we did this, the setup time for our simulations was reduced by orders of magnitude. We had been spending weeks meshing some cases. Now we had a robust mesh for a transient simulation in a matter of seconds. We knew we were onto something big.

What applications were initially targeted for the software?

We focused on turbulent flows in machines with complicated geometry and moving parts. Our initial focus was IC engine simulation, which included some of the most difficult-to-simulate flow phenomena: combustion, turbulence, liquid injection, compressible flow, and complex moving geometries. We knew the ability to simulate these phenomena would translate well to the design of other machines in which understanding the flow in moving, complex geometries is key to the success of their analysis.


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