Research Papers

Emergence of Computational Fluid Dynamics at Imperial College (1965–1975): A Personal Recollection

[+] Author and Article Information
Akshai K. Runchal

Analytic and Computational Research, Inc.,
1931 Stradella Road,
Los Angeles, CA 90077
e-mail: runchal@ACRiCFD.com;

Manuscript received March 15, 2012; final manuscript received June 9, 2012; published online December 6, 2012. Assoc. Editor: Gerard F. Jones.

J. Heat Transfer 135(1), 011009 (Dec 06, 2012) (9 pages) Paper No: HT-12-1115; doi: 10.1115/1.4007655 History: Received March 15, 2012; Revised June 09, 2012

This paper is a personal recollection of the development of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) at Imperial College (IC) in the 1960s by a group founded by Brian Spalding who was the charismatic leader of a dedicated team for a decade. I was a member of this team during the development of the basic engineering practice that came to be known as the IC approach to “CFD.” I hope to capture the essence and the significance of those developments. A version of this paper was delivered at the occasion of the seminar organized at Villanova University to celebrate the award of the 2010 Franklin Prize to Prof. Spalding. In a very strict sense the IC group invented neither the art and science of CFD nor the name. However it did excel in adapting and developing the methodology and technology of CFD, testing and verifying it against empirical data, and developing innovative and practical computational tools that had widespread application and relevance to problems of interest to engineers. In a nutshell the IC group heralded the CFD revolution and was the pioneer of the practice and technology of CFD. Most of today's commercially available software tools trace their origin to the work done by the IC group in the decade spanning the mid-60s to mid-70s. The group at IC benefitted tremendously and borrowed liberally from the innovative and groundbreaking work being carried out around this time at Los Alamos National Laboratory under the leadership of Frank Harlow—this is described elsewhere in this volume.

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