The Nusselt Problem: Steady-State Laminar Convection in a Pipe Using Ansys Workbench

Current Status
Not Enrolled
Get Started

On a daily basis, we use various heat transfer systems such as boilers, condensers, and radiators in heating and cooling applications.

Most of these systems transfer thermal energy by convection. Convection is an important heat transfer mode where thermal energy is transferred between two different bodies, one of which is a moving fluid (liquid or gas). It is important to study heat transfer by convection to design efficient heat exchangers and prevent systems from overheating. Engineering simulations give us insights into the physics of convection and help us understand the impact of these design modifications. In this course, we consider a canonical problem of steady laminar pipe flow to understand the convective effects.

This SimCafe course was developed by Dr. Rajesh Bhaskaran, Swanson Director of Engineering Simulation at Cornell University, and Benjamin J Mullen in partnership with Ansys. It serves as an e-learning resource to integrate industry-standard simulation tools into courses and provides a resource for supplementary learning outside the classroom. In this course, we will learn to model steady-state convection by following the end-to-end workflow in Ansys Workbench and estimate the Nusselt number variation along the pipe.

For more ways to learn, check out the Cornell edX course, A Hands-on Introduction to Engineering Simulations at

Cornell University also offers a Fluid Dynamics Simulations Using Ansys online certificate authored by Dr. Rajesh Bhaskaran. Learn more here:

Recommended Courses

Due to the fluid properties (viscosity in particular), external flows show different characteristics near the object’s surface compared to regions away from the object. The formation of a boundary layer, which is a thin narrow viscous region near the object’s surface, is one common element in all external viscous flows. Simulations help us calculate these forces and make the required design changes to obtain higher lift and minimize drag. In this Sim Cafe course, we consider a canonical problem of steady flow over a flat plate to understand the aerodynamic effects on a flat surface using Ansys Workbench.

An airfoil is the cross-sectional shape of the wing of an airplane or a propeller blade. The airfoil body is designed to mainly produce two aerodynamic forces: (1) perpendicular to the free stream flow, which is called the lift force, and (2) a resistive force in the direction of the free stream flow, which is called the drag force. The airfoil shape, its surface area, and angle of attack play an important role in deciding the magnitude of these aerodynamic forces on the airfoil. In this SimCafe course, we will learn to conduct a CFD analysis of the NACA 0012 Airfoil at 6 degrees angle of attack placed inside a wind tunnel by following the end-to-end workflow using Ansys Workbench.

When the airflow passes over the chimney at a low Reynolds number, the flow is symmetric. As the Reynolds number of the flow increases, the flow field becomes asymmetric, leading to the creation of periodic vortex structures in the flow. These are called Von Karman Vortices, and they detach periodically from the body creating a repeating pattern of swirling vortices behind it. When the frequency of these vortices matches the resonance frequency of these tall structures, it can induce violent oscillations in the structure that might damage or, worse, destroy the chimney. In this Sim Café example, we will consider the canonical problem of unsteady flow past a cylinder to understand the aerodynamic effects of wind on chimneys.