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Advances in Engineering Software 40 (2009) 193201

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Flow analysis in valve with moving grids through CFD techniques

C. Srikanth a,1, C. Bhasker b,*,2
a b

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Vasavi College of Engineering, Ibrahimbag, Hyderabad 500031, India BHEL, Corp R&D Division, Hyderabad 500093, India

a r t i c l e

i n f o

a b s t r a c t
The compressible air ow in a typical puffer chamber with moving contact between xed electrodes has been studied using computational uid dynamics techniques. Moving grid methods in CFD process not only plays a pivotal role in understanding the ow behavior in time domain but also helps for xing the internals at optimal locations. A typical laboratory puffer chamber geometry has been extracted from the published literature and generated multi-block structured grid using Altairs HyperMesh software. Flow simulation in axi-symmetry duct comprises xed electrodes, moving contact and exit duct has been carried out with ANSYS-CFX software. It has been observed that, due to steps and curvature in the geometry, ow takes different turns from inlet and velocity distribution between xed electrodes indicates vortex ow with turbulent eddies. CFD simulation with valve element mesh motion indicates that pressure history is signicantly affected by the velocity of moving contact in the puffer chamber. The results obtained for a typical puffer chamber with the mesh motion are qualitative in nature and forms the sound basis for future design studies of electro-uid dynamics of circuit breakers. 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Article history: Received 8 February 2007 Received in revised form 7 January 2008 Accepted 4 April 2008 Available online 3 June 2008 Keywords: Puffer chamber Moving element Fixed electrodes Multi-block single volume grid Compressible ow Moving grids CFX CCL Flow simulation Electro-uid dynamics

1. Introduction Substations with circuit breakers in electrical power-stations [1] are very critical and protect the auxiliary components due to fault currents. SF6 gas-insulated substations (GIS) are preferred for several voltage ratings to protect power plant components due to internal breakdowns (see Fig. 1). In such a substation, the various equipments like circuit breakers, bus-bars, isolators, load break switches, current transformers, voltage transformers earthing switches, etc. are housed in metal enclosed modules lled with SF6 gas as shown in Fig. 2. Due to high dielectric strength of SF6 gas than air, the clearances required are smaller. Hence, the overall size of each equipment and the complete substation is reduced to about 10% of conventional air-insulated substations. Transportation of SF6 gas in circuit breaker shown in Fig. 3 is subjected to moving and stationary components. Although, the

* Corresponding author. Address: 402 Residency Apartments, Ashoknagar Bridge, Hyderabad 500 093, India. Tel.: +91 040 27641584; cell: 9849252948. E-mail addresses: (C. Srikanth), (C. Bhasker). URL: (C. Bhasker). 1 BE(nal year) project work. Presently working as Programmer Trainee. Cognizant Technology Solutions India Private Limited, Madhapur, Hyderabad-500081, India. 2 Member, AIAA/USA, Life Member, EDAF/India. 0965-9978/$ - see front matter 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.advengsoft.2008.04.003

reliability of gas-insulated system is high, any internal breakdown that occur invariably causes extensive damage and an outage of several days duration is needed to effect the repair and it has been reported [2] that the consequential losses are high. Because of the ow structure peculiar to blast waves and nozzle jet ows, low-density portions inevitably yields in high pressure gases such as SF6, especially, when it is subjected to multiple moving and xed objects. Immediately after the current interruption, a high voltage of alternating current is imposed to the breaker and there arises a possibility that regeneration of arc might affect its performance. The transient electric arc is described by the NavierStokes equations, Maxwell equations and radiation transport equations. Besides the numerical solution of these partial differential equations, an exact knowledge of the material properties like gas density, thermal capacity, viscosity, thermal and electric conductivity are required. Even with the present available computer power, the research for understanding electro-uid dynamics of quenching the arc is limited success. The arc in conventional gas-blast circuit breakers is merely a passive element to be quenched by a transonic gas ow of sufcient pressure. The latter is generated mechanically by rather simple means, but uneconomically from the modern point of view. The arc in a self-blast circuit breaker is an active element controlling the breaker action in a complicated manner all the time from contact separation to extinction at one of the subsequent current-

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zeros. In order to understand owing uid behavior for arc extinction with moving contacts, simulation through computational uid

dynamics CFD plays signicant role [3] in design of circuit breakers.

Fig. 1. Electrical substation in power plant.

Fig. 2. Circuit breakers and its internals in substation.

Fig. 3. Cross-sectional view of circuit breaker.

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2. Problem description The geometrical and physical modeling involved in circuit breakers are complex and requires multi-disciplinary approaches to account electro-uid dynamics. When the working uid is SF6, accurate description of ow properties are highly essential. The uid medium present in the circuit breaker is compressible for which thermodynamic properties are very sensitive and any inaccurate input values for viscosity, thermal conductivity, specic heat, etc., will not yield meaningful results. In order to gain insights, the present paper examines typical puffer breaker based on laboratory setup using air as ow medium detailed [4] for prediction of several eld variables as a function of valve movement. In reality, the geometry is circular nature with multiple moving and stationary objects and simulation process is difcult in generation of geometry, grid and convergence of uid ow equations, To understand ow effects with the movement of valve element in stream wise direction, the typical geometry of puffer chamber is considered and shown in the Fig. 4. The model considered in this paper is of axi-symmetric puffer breaker, wherein gas ow enters from the duct joining to xed electrode and leaves through exit duct attached rightside xed electrode along with moving object. When, the currents are interrupted, the valve element begins to move from left to right. Then, the uid in the puffer chamber is compressed because of reducing volume between the walls of xed electrodes. 3. Computational grid

The surface automeshing module in HyperMesh is a robust tool for mesh generation that provides users the ability to interactively adjust a variety of mesh parameters for each surface or surface edge. These parameters include element density, element biasing, mesh algorithm and more. Element generation can be automatically optimized for a set of quality criteria. HyperMesh can also quickly automesh a closed volume with high-quality rst or second order tetrahedral elements. The geometry of puffer chamber has been extracted from the published literature and created plan view of the model with the number of 2D blocks. The geometry has been extruded for arbitrary thickness to obtain the three dimensional volume. Using 3D solid mesh options, volume planes with uniform grid points has been selected to generate the three dimensional computational mesh. After repeating this process for all other volumes and removal of duplicate elements at mating surface three dimensional grid for considered geometry comprises 57,096 nodes and 51,250 elements has been imported to ow solver. The computational grid for the puffer chamber with the valve opening and closed states are shown in the Fig. 5a and b. In these grids, legend red3 color surface indicates the moving contact. The green color surface area represents inlet to puffer chamber. The orange color surface describes the exit location. The blue color surface on front and back shows wall surface between xed electrodes and moving contact. The rest of the colored surfaces are treated as default domain. 4. Mathematical formulation for moving grid

One of the essential pre-requisite is to generate quality computational grid for the geometry, which takes three-fourths of the time of any CFD project. Several commercial grid generators like ICEM, Gridgen, Gridpro, HyperMesh are used to generate the tetrahedral/polyhedral, structured multi-block hexagonal grids and can be exported to CFD solvers along with boundary regions. Altair HyperMesh is the best choice for generation of quality structured grids and its usage in CFD solver through user friendly. Advanced functionality within HyperMesh allows users to efciently mesh high delity models. This functionality includes user dened quality criteria and controls, morphing technology to update existing meshes to new design proposals, and automatic mid-surface generation for complex designs with varying wall thicknesses. Automated tetra-meshing and hexa-meshing minimizes meshing time, while batch meshing enables large scale meshing of parts with no model clean up and minimal user input. HyperMesh presents users with a sophisticated suite of easy-touse tools to build and edit models. For 2D and 3D model creation, users have access to a variety of mesh generation panels besides HyperMeshs powerful automeshing module.

The governing equations for prediction of compressible Navier Stokes equations are detailed in [511]. The standard formulation of the conservation of the variable for a volume V with moving boundaries is

o ot


U dV

Uuj vj dAj

where uj, vj is the velocity of the moving boundary element dAj. A straightforward rst order time discretisation of the equation is as follows:

Un1 V n1 Un V n X Uip uj vj n1 DAn1 j;ip ip Dt

With the denition

1 V

U dV

The goal is to formulate the equations in a way that they can be discretised consistently with a standard nite volume formulation. The conservation equation can be re-written as


o ot


U dV

Uuj dAj

U Uvj dAj

Uvj dAj 0 4


The variations U is constant when integrated over the surface of the control volume. This means

Uvj U

vj dAj UV

Fixed electrode Moving element

It may be noted that due to elimination of time derivative, change in the time derivative and volume change from the surface extension are balanced analytically. The conservation equation therefore be re-written as

Fig. 4. Geometry of puffer breaker.

3 For interpretation of color in Fig. 5, the reader is referred to the web version of this article.

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Fig. 5. (a) Computational grid in valve open condition. (b) Computational grid in valve closed condition.


Uuj vj dAj

Uvj dAj 0

The Eq. (6) is exact, as only trivial manipulations and average concepts have been introduced in the derivation. The conservation with moving mesh option can therefore be written as the standard equation plus a term due to the mesh movement. The surface integral including grid velocities are discretised as

U Uvj dAj

X U Uvj ip DAj;ip

tional control over the resulting mesh distribution. Locally increasing mesh stiffness, for example, is a particularly useful approach to avoid mesh folding in regions of large deformation. The ability to specify the positions of all points in the mesh is offered through junction box routine calls to user FORTRAN code. In applications that involve extreme deformations, a topologically valid mesh cannot be maintained by mesh repositioning only. In these cases, local or global re-meshing is required and the existing solution can be interpolated to the updated mesh using tools provided with the ANSYS-CFX product. 5. Boundary conditions After importing the grid in Ansys pre-processor, simulation type has been selected as unsteady with the initial and nal time step values, based on which moving contact displacement is subjected from open to closed position in puffer chamber. The other important step is to create the domain with the assignment of uid type and its properties compressible uid, i.e., ideal air, thermally treated as total energy, turbulence is accounted through high Reynolds number ke with standard wall functions. Air ow with specied component velocities are entering the inlet chamber and after taking different turns leave through exit location, where atmosphere pressure is prescribed. The reference pressure of uid is dened in the simulation as 101,325 Pa. Connected surfaces of moving element under mesh motion is dened as unspecied in the wall boundary conditions. In a separate wall boundary condition, the displacement of moving element is prescribed in stream wise direction. The inputs for wall boundary conditions of moving wall are specied in Table 1 through CEL. 5.1. Convergence Segregated solvers employ a solution strategy, where the momentum equations are rst solved, using a guessed pressure, and an equation for a pressure correction is obtained. Because of the guess-and-correct nature of the linear system, a large number of iterations are typically required in addition to the need for judiciously selecting relaxation parameters for the variables. ANSYSCFX uses a coupled solver, which solves the uid ow equations (for u, v, w, p) as a single system. This solution approach uses a fully implicit discretisation of the equations at any given time step. For steady state problems the time step behaves like an acceleration parameter, to guide the approximate solutions in a physically based manner to a steady state solution. This reduces the number of iterations required for convergence to a steady state, or to calculate

DAj,ip is the volume swept by the integration point face. The volume change from the time derivative and the volume change from the surface integral is implemented consistently through CEL script. Further details concerned to computational algorithm and implementation in software are outlined in [1215].
4.1. CFD solver CFD solver used in this paper to compute NavierStokes equations are based on nite volume technique. As a nite volume method, it satises global conservation by enforcing local conservation over control volumes that are constructed around each mesh vertex or node. Advection uxes are evaluated using a high-resolution scheme that essentially, second order accurate and bounded. For transient ows, an implicit second order accurate time differencing scheme is used. This technology is available in a single solver that covers all supported physical models. In the applications of puffer circuit breakers, accurate results are realizable by simply repositioning existing mesh points. In the ANSYS-CFX product, this is accomplished in two ways; by specifying the motion of points on particular mesh regions or by explicitly specifying the positions of all points in the mesh. If the motion of particular two and three dimensional mesh regions are known, they can be specied as displacements relative to the initial mesh or as absolute locations (which may be relative to the previous mesh). This motion may depend upon space, time or any other solution variable that is accessible through the CFX Expression Language (CEL) or FORTRAN-based user-CEL calls. ANSYS-CFX software then solves a displacement diffusion equation to determine the mesh displacements throughout the remaining volume of the mesh. Contrary to point-iterative springanalogy-based methods, this approach takes advantage of the computational efciency of the ANSYS-CFX multigrid solver and automatically preserves features of the mesh, such as inated boundary layers. The ability to vary the mesh stiffness (that is, the diffusivity for the mesh displacement equation) provides addi-

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C. Srikanth, C. Bhasker / Advances in Engineering Software 40 (2009) 193201 Table 1 CEL script for moving grid in CFD simulation CEL: EXPRESSIONS: tStep = .1 [s] pvel = 40. [m s-1] dsqr = pvel*tStep dsqr1 = ave(Total Mesh Displacement x)@ sqr dsqrn = dsqr1+dsqr tTotal = 2.1 [s] END BOUNDARY: sqr Boundary Type = WALL Location = MW1 BOUNDARY CONDITIONS: HEAT TRANSFER: Option = Adiabatic END MESH MOTION: Displacement X Component = dsqrn Displacement Y Component = 0 [m] Displacement Z Component = 0 [m] Option = Specied Displacement END 197

the solution for each time step in a time dependent analysis. At any stage of a calculation, each equation will not be satised exactly, and the residual of an equation identies by how much the lefthand-side of the equation differs from the right-hand-side at any point in space. If the solution is exact then the residuals are zero. Exact means that each of the relevant nite volume equations are satised precisely. However, since these equations only model the physics approximately, this does not mean that the solution exactly matches, what happens in reality. If a solution is converging, residuals should decrease with successive time steps. Mathematically, convergence rate in simple form can be dened by

Convergence rate

Rn Rn1

where Rn is the normalised log residual at time step n, and Rn1 is the normalised log residual at time step n 1. It should be possible to obtain a value of 0.95 or smaller for most situations. The time

step iteration is controlled by the physical time step (global) or local time step factor (local) setting to advance the solution in time for a steady state simulation. A rst indication of the convergence of the solution to steady state is the reduction in the residuals. Experience shows, however, that different types of ows require different levels of residual reduction. For example, it is found regularly that swirling ows can exhibit signicant changes even if the residuals are reduced by more than 56 orders of magnitude. Other ows are well converged with a reduction of only 34 orders. In addition to the residual reduction, it is therefore required to monitor the solution during convergence and to plot the pre-dened target quantities of the simulation as a function of the residual (or the iteration number). A visual observation of the solution at different levels of convergence are recommended. When uid-domain involves movement of internal objects, transient ow simulations are highly dependent on grid quality and skew angles between mesh points. The mesh quality check is to enforce positive control volumes in the grid. This check is performed at the beginning of every global iteration step and the technique works well for wide range of applications with reasonable deformations/time step sizes. If the grid quality is below a certain level, i.e., skew angle becomes very small, the associated mesh points becomes highly distorted and solver fails. However, this technique will have the limitations, if the computational mesh involves multi-domain and solver inevitably fails due to lack of remeshing algorithm due to distortion of mesh points. Full transient le has been created using the upwind discretisation scheme with second order backward Euler algorithm. The valve movement will take about 21 times from its initial state to reach closed position based on the inputs of moving contact velocity, tStep, tTotal and mesh motion of object in specied direction. For each valve displacement, ow, turbulence and energy equa-

Fig. 6. Residuals behavior in transient ow simulation.

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tions iterates in several time steps till the residuals are reaches to the order 1e04. As the valve element moves to next incremental distance towards closure state, with the results available at previous step, ow equations are reiterated for the stretched grid points. This will continue, till the valve movement is reached to almost closed position (see Fig. 6). The residual history for ow turbulence and energy equations are shown in Fig. 7 wherein each peak corresponds one global time step. Within each global time step, ow, turbulence, energy equations marches on all grid points through couple solver in 10 local time steps till the root mean square residual values reaches to the order 1e04. As global time increases, valve element moves towards closed state, computational mesh automatically adjusts to the changed geometry and checks grid skew for linear solver. The residual errors within inner time step iterations, which uses previously calculated eld variables, rapidly drops in fewer iterations. Depending upon tTotal and moving body velocity as a product of tStep, converged simulation results are stored in transient le folder. 5.2. Judging convergence In many cases, global quantities will stabilize within 20 to 30 time steps, but convergence will not be achieved until approxi-

mately 100 time steps are completed. For most applications, convergence should be achieved (or well on its way) within 200 time steps. If the problems with convergence are encountered, it is required to nd the source of the problem rather than taking the results as they are. There are many factors that may lead to poor convergence, including poor mesh quality, improper boundary condition selection and time step selection to name a few. When there problems with convergence, it is required to determine whether the problem is local or global. Compare the (root mean square) RMS and (maximum) MAX residuals of the equations having difculty. If the MAX residual is more than one order of magnitude larger than your RMS residual, it usually indicates that the problem is concentrated to a local region. If it is a locally high residual, identifying the location of the MAX residual will help in diagnosing the problem. Typically the location of the MAX residual of the momentum equations is the most useful to identify. When the linear solver fails, it can mean

Fig. 7. (a) t = 0.3 s. (b) t = 1.0 s. (c) t = 2.1 s.

Fig. 8. (a) t = 0.3 s. (b) t = 1.0 s. (c) t = 2.1 s.

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Fig. 9. (a) t = 0.3 s. (b) t = 0.6 s. (c) t = 0.8 s. (d) t = 1.0 s. (e) t = 2.0 s. (f) t = 2.1 s.

that non-physical boundary conditions have been applied, or that the initial values were inappropriately set. In simulations that involve mesh deformations of internal objects in the domain, extra care is required to ensure that mass, momentum and energy are conserved. This is generally not possible, when points are dynamically added and removed from the mesh. ANSYS-CFX software employs an advanced mesh movement or mesh morphing model to reduce the need for remeshing and, hence, increase the accuracy of the prediction. There are situations that mesh movement in ANSYS-CFX solver fails during mesh morphing due to distortion of grid. 6. Results and discussion After convergence, ANSYS-CFX writes .gtm, .def, .cfx and .out les in the working directory. In case of transient ow simulation, a separate directory generates, in which grid les are stored for each global time. The eld variables such as velocity vectors, mach number, velocity magnitude, pressure are available for all grid

points in the computational domain for visualisation and interpretation through contour plots, velocity vectors and streamlines. The velocity vectors from inlet to exit location of puffer chamber at the mid plane of puffer chamber are shown in Fig. 7ac. When the valve is fully open, the ow from inlet to the exit exhibits high velocity in the region of xed electrodes. As valve is 50% open, the air ow distribution tend form swirl motion with considerable velocity magnitudes between xed electrode region. Indications of ow recirculation between xed electrodes and at certain places in exit duct becomes stronger, when the moving contact is reaching closed position. The Mach number distribution at corresponding times in the middle plane of computational domain is described in Fig. 8ac. It is observed from these plots, that the ow is subsonic and highest Mach number indicates at exit location when valve is in opening condition. As valve element moves towards closed state, highest Mach number shifts to the xed electrodes region where velocity magnitude highest. The variation of Mach number is found to increase with the displacement of moving contact in the puffer chamber.

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Fig. 10. (a) t = 0.3 s. (b) t = 0.6 s. (c) t = 0.8 s. (d) t = 1.0 s. (e) t = 1.0 s. (f) t = 1.0 s.

To substantiate velocity vectors and Mach number pattern in the puffer chamber, velocity pattern is detailed for different times in Fig. 9af. Due to steps and curvature in puffer chamber geometry, the velocity distribution exhibits irregular, increases between xed electrodes and drops rapidly in the exit duct. The behavior of ow pattern indicates the swirl ow with turbulent eddies not only in the area of xed electrodes but also occurs in the exit duct. It is also noticed that due to displacement of moving contact, area between xed electrodes is compressed and volume is reduced. Highest velocity which is taking place at this region increases with the volume reduction in xed electrodes due to displacement of moving contact in the puffer chamber. Static pressure distribution for the corresponding times at the middle plane of computational domain of puffer chamber is shown in Fig. 10af. High pressure in puffer chamber in the neighborhood of moving contact increases with the displacement of valve towards closed position. Pressure contours in the puffer chamber plane are highly uctuating and forms the low pressure zone between xed electrodes. This low pressure expands over volume between xed electrodes becomes smaller incrementally. The ow parametric database generated for typical puffer chamber with

moving contact through CFD provides several insights for understanding to quench the arcs due to fault currents.

7. Conclusions Compressible air ow simulation in a typical puffer type chamber comprises xed electrodes, moving contact, inlet and exit locations are carried out using CFD techniques. The velocity vectors in the middle plane of puffer chamber indicates swirl ow with turbulent eddies over the displacement of moving contact towards closed position. Indications of swirl ow between xed electrodes and at exit duct becomes stronger with the displacement of moving contact. Static pressure contours in the middle plane of puffer chamber are highly uctuating and forms the low pressure region between xed electrodes, which however increases with the valve movement towards closed state. The variations in pressure history are signicantly affected by the velocity of moving contact in the puffer chamber. The CFD study carried out for prediction of several ow characteristics provides valuable insights for quenching the arcs in circuit breakers.

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