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I think we’re gonna need a bigger boat

Efficiency is a significant priority to every business operating in the full range of oil and gas markets. The sustained oil low price has certainly driven major changes across all aspects of the exploration and production industries in recent years.

In 2014, a report by McKinsey into the efficiency of North Sea production facilities highlighted the potential for both new and ageing production infrastructure to deliver greater production efficiency. The industry reacted to the efficiency challenge, following the major drop in oil price, with initiatives like the UK Oil and Gas Efficiency Task Force; which has helped define many areas where action can be taken to target improved efficiency and work towards securing the future of the industry.

Efficiency improvements can come in a multitude of areas, through every aspect of an oil and gas business and throughout the industry, for example in:

Oil and gas production and processing – the Efficiency Task Force mentioned above has highlighted many areas that will help here;

How companies are managed, operated and structured – we continue to read announcements of business restructuring, acquisitions and mergers where talk of business efficiencies are a primary objective;

How we perform our work – digital technology can enable significant progress to be made in the efficiency of engineering activities in design, analysis and simulation are undertaken as discussed in the following.

Almost everyone appreciates the beautiful (and often sleek) styling of a new automobile model. However, the smooth curves of a new car model are as much to do with aerodynamic necessity as aesthetic pleasure.

A typical sedan cruising on the freeway will use about 18 percent of its fuel energy in overcoming aerodynamic drag*. Since the power required to overcome drag rises with the cube of velocity, the faster you go, the more fuel you use. (If this seems deceptively low, it’s because the process of turning gasoline into the kinetic energy of the vehicle is tremendously inefficient, thanks to the second law of thermodynamics and the fact that entropy sucks).

In order to maximize the driving range of a vehicle, it’s generally a good idea to minimize its drag (and therefore fuel consumption). This is a particular concern for drivers of electric vehicles, whose range is limited by a fixed battery capacity.

Growing up in the countryside in Sweden, I got used to several power outages a year due to snow, storms, lightning, etc. No water, no electricity and no heat for days, sometimes in the middle of winter, meant you had to huddle together to keep warm, get water from a local supply and eat cold food. A possible remedy for this annoyance is distributed energy generation. Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) combined heat and power systems are independent of local weather conditions (unlike wind and solar systems) and provide a cleaner, quieter and more efficient alternative to traditional petrol generators. SOFC systems are used to power and heat/cool data centers, homes and stores across the globe, as well as for offshore and remote military applications. Power outage for a data center doesn’t only mean inconvenience and freezing indoor climate, it also means large financial losses due to downtime, so SOFC systems are often used to supply reliable power. To support the movement towards cleaner and more efficient distributed energy we have made simulations of SOFC systems straightforward in STAR-CCM+® v12.02. You can now natively specify the required electrochemical reactions on the anode and cathode as well as the ion transported through the membrane, making it much easier than before to set up such calculations.

We’re conditioned to make comparisons and we do this constantly. Were you able to find any differences between the two images? Or were you perhaps a little frustrated? We have pretty strong reactions when we expect to see differences but can’t find them right away. How about instant replays in (American) football? A receiver makes a catch near the sidelines – quick, was he in or out of bounds? From the first camera angle we’re presented with, there’s no way to tell. We wait impatiently for the updated camera angle replay where “we” can actually make a decision.

Perhaps you have heard it said, such as in the article titled “The Newly Proposed Pump Regulation by the Department of Energy” by Empowering Pumps.

“It has been estimated that 20% of the total energy consumed worldwide is used to run a pump of one sort or another. In addition, of those pumps, two-thirds use 60% more energy than is required.”

So it is no surprise that new standards for pump efficiency have either already been implemented or are being considered by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the European Union (EU). And given our global focus on energy conservation, it’s reasonable to think that this same type of governmental regulation will be implemented around the world before long.

So, for pump companies, the opportunity and the need are both clear: design more efficient pumps!

Cool is a hard thing to define. It’s completely subjective. But you know it when you see it.

There are a lot of ways to present CAE/CFD data. Plots and tables are arguably what we make most of our decisions on. But, “Excel sheets… aren’t everyone’s friend” . Scenes then… you can put a lot of things into your scenes; results on the surfaces of the thing you’re simulating, streamlines that go in and around the thing you’re simulating… These visual abstractions are a deeply ingrained part of our engineering culture. But not everyone has a casual familiarity with this language. People with diverse levels of expertise have to make sense of these abstractions. And those who don’t, or no longer, speak the language daily and who typically have the least amount of time to assemble conclusions, also carry the heaviest decision-making obligations.

Maybe some of you are getting ahead of me here, recalling the phrase “Color For Directors,” a phrase I personally find to be demeaning to directors and dismissive of what we do. Cool pictures? Sure, but cool isn’t cool if it isn’t right. I submit that we have an ethical obligation to maintain the fidelity of our data , and taking it a step further, we rely on good fundamental data to make decisions. Now, data alone can’t capture an idea . Effective visualizations (cool is implied here) can capture ideas, quickly and easily, inviting curiosity and engaging broader audiences. In STAR-CCM+® v12.02, you can create photorealistic images and animations, reducing the gap between the time needed for you to communicate your messages and the time needed for others to understand practical implications, quickly placing your information into their own knowledge frameworks.

We all have seen electric cars on the street. They look very futuristic and demand a second glance from passers-by. And the convenience… you can drive them in the car pool lane, park and even charge it for free in some places. Great! Their price tag is still an impediment to their large adoption by consumers, though, even if incentives exist in many countries.

Another reason for their slow expansion is the rather low drive range these vehicles offer. The longest range available on the market is 300 km (a little over 186 miles) in real driving conditions. Although this would be sufficient for the usual daily commute from home to office, people have the feeling this is not enough for the few times a year they’ve got to drive 500 km (over 310 miles), like to go celebrate Grandma’s 90th birthday. Well, we don’t call that selfishness - although we think you should visit Grandma more often - we call this range anxiety, or the fear of being short of gas (or electricity in our case). So that’s 300 km you can do before you have got to spend several hours at the charging station to continue on your journey and be on time for Grandma’s cake. You’d better order a three-course meal, with a long coffee, buy some newspapers and hoover the car to occupy your time while the car is charging. Fortunately, there is a solution to reduce your entertainment bill at the service; it is Fast Charging. If we could charge our EV to full capacity in the same time as we fill our gasoline tanks, range anxiety would not be such a problem.

In this blog, we want to explore the complex problem of fast charging with Battery Design StudioTM, understand its implications and see whether there is anything that can be done to remedy this problem.

High temperature processes are of vital importance in a number of industries, including cement, chemical, glass, metallurgy, refining and steel. With so many factors affecting the operational efficiency to consider, the stakes are pretty high for engineers to deliver a safe, reliable, efficient and environmentally friendly operation.

That is why computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and reaction kinetic simulations of combustion processes to design systems are being increasingly utilized. They not only give the necessary insight into the complex physics but also help to significantly lower the cost of iterating between trials and prototypes.

This is important when it comes to improving the current designs of processes and equipment such as gas and coal burners, glass and steel treatment furnaces, process and crude heaters, reformers and dryers and kilns.

My 6-year old son entered my office when I was working on the video below. He looked at it with amazement and asked me “Oh! Mummy, is that real fire?!” I stopped for a second to think and then answered “Kind of. It is real fire, but in the computer. We calculate how the real fire burns.” After a half-impressed and half-puzzled “wow!?” he cheerily jumped out of my office again and probably forgot all about it within 2 minutes.

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Matthew Godo
STAR-CCM+ Product Manager
Stephen Ferguson
Marketing Director
Brigid Blaschak
Communications Specialist
James Clement
STAR-CCM+ Product Manager
Dr Mesh
Meshing Guru
Joel Davison
Lead Product Manager, STAR-CCM+
Ravindra Aglave
Director - Chemical Processing
Sabine Goodwin
Director, Product Marketing