Thermal Optimization for Energy Efficiency

Where I live in New Hampshire, in the northeastern United States, it is mid-autumn. The leaves are especially brilliant this year and fall temperatures have been warm with just a few nights below freezing. We had to turn on the heat recently and will be paying for the additional fuel usage soon. These chilly nights and warm days have me thinking about honeycomb window blinds and the lowest temperature we can all tolerate indoors in an effort to save energy when it truly gets cold. It strikes me that the heating decisions we make at home to optimize for energy efficiency are very similar to the ones engineers working on all kinds of things make everyday.

thermal-optimization-homeQuestions that homeowners ask — “How many and what kind of windows are most energy efficient?”, “What wall materials and insulation makes the most sense for the climate?” and “What heating system and fuel-type is most cost-effective?” — parallel the questions engineers and designers try to answer for their products and processes. It also strikes me that although most homeowners would not use simulation to model their homes for thermal optimization, most engineers can benefit from simulating the thermal behavior of their processes and products to improve energy efficiency as we will discuss on November 15. 

Thermal optimization considerations are a common theme across applications. Consumer products, motors and engines, process equipment and electronic devices can all have temperature ranges in which they operate best, along with some combination of heat that must be released, heat that must be added and/or heat which is wasted. The goal of many engineers (and homeowners) is to keep devices in their optimal temperature range so they can operate in the most energy-efficient and cost-effective ways possible.

Simulation can help engineers look deeper into thermal optimization issues and evaluate more options more thoroughly than traditional physical design and development methods available to homeowners, which include the properties of the insulation and glass, accepted standards, hand calculations, and recommendations from experts and physical testing methods. Simulation removes the cover and gets under the surface to expose thermal management issues where they occur. It helps you to peer deep inside to see where heat is being generated and how it might be impacting surrounding materials and components, explore the thermal processes that occur, determine if cooling or additional heating is needed or if another change can be made to improve energy efficiency, and virtually explore ways to optimize designs to meet thermal management project goals all before building a physical prototype.

led energy efficiency

Simulation helps you see what’s heating up (or not) inside components and devices such as this LED  Courtesy E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Co.

ansys webinarsJoin us on Nov. 15, at 1 p.m. EST for the Thermal Optimization for Energy Efficiency webinar when we will be discussing thermal optimization for energy efficiency in greater detail. See how simulation gives engineers insight into thermal processes impacting the energy efficiency of their their processes and product, and discover how engineers are using a variety of simulation methods to effectively investigate their thermal management issues and evaluate the results of their analyses.

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About Chris Wolfe

Chris has been with ANSYS for nearly 14 years and working with simulation for over 17. She is currently a lead product manager at ANSYS, Inc. focusing on multiphysics simulation and ANSYS AIM. Prior to this role, Chris was the product manager for ANSYS Fluent and a technical support engineer before that. Before joining ANSYS, Chris worked at DuPont where she applied Fluent to a variety of problems. In addition to simulation, Chris is interested in Women in Tech and STEM issues.

Follow me on Twitter @ChrisWolfeNH