Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software has become an essential modeling tool to study and validate flow problems in engineered systems. Many computer-aided engineering (CAE) programs for CFD are available with different capabilities, making it difficult to select the best program for a specific application. This problem compounds in fields with static and rotational regions due to varying approaches for developing the computational mesh and performing flow rotation operations.
Three different CFD programs were reviewed and evaluated by analyzing a real-world problem: flow field analysis and power requirements of a spinning lawnmower blade. Simulations with SolidWorks, SimScale, and ANSYS Fluent were performed to study viscous and pressure forces on a lawnmower blade and compare quantitative and qualitative aspects of each software. The programs’ features, drawbacks, usability, and outputs were recorded and compared. Accuracy of the programs’ output torque was compared using torque data based on the differential power consumption of the electric lawn mower motor unloaded and loaded with the blade. The verification of methodology and results was approached with an analytical model based on drag relations around simplified geometry. Based on these analyses, Fluent provided more consistent solution accuracy with low computational costs and more versatile visualization capabilities.