And just like that, we’re wrapping up 2021! I feel as though I just wrote our 2020 year-in-review, but here we are getting ready for 2022. So just what did we get up to in the last 12 months here at SoftInWay?
AxSTREAM Continues to be at the Cutting Edge
Like any other industry and discipline, engineers and managers are always looking to design turbomachinery components and systems better, faster, and at a lower cost. After all, who says you can’t pursue all 3 points of the triangle of truth?
AxSTREAM.SPACE, which was originally launched back in 2019 saw significant expansion in capabilities based on feedback from our space exploration industry and defense clients. While I did write a story on it, here’s a quick rundown!
- Cycle Simulation
- Users can now design and simulate a wide range of rocket engine cycles, from gas generator and staged combustion cycles to expander cycles and even simple pressure-fed systems.
- Additionally, convergent-divergent nozzles were added as an element as they are critical components in any rocket engine cycle.
- Turbine Design
- With AxSTREAM.SPACE, users have the ability to incorporate drilled nozzles into the flowpath.
- It can also be paired with NASA’s popular CEA Tool to account for the specific chemical properties that are seen in working fluids in these applications.
- Pump Design
- The software package received more capabilities to predict cavitation early in the design process,
- Users can incorporate inducers seamlessly into the design of centrifugal pump flowpaths, which is critical in rocket engine applications.
- Has expanded capabilities for modeling and designing volutes, including a seamless geometry export feature, which means getting your volute design imported into a CFD program like STAR-CCM+ or Ansys.
AxSTREAM.SPACE wasn’t the only area of attention for our development engineers, however. Here is an overview of some key capabilities added inside the AxSTREAM platform, which include:
- Features new capabilities in hydrogen/fuel cell cycle design and simulation, in addition to the above-mentioned new capabilities in rocket engine cycle modeling.
- Received improvements to facilitate easier startup, meshing, and postprocessing. That means more results in less time, in a CFD solver already known for its fast solve times.
- AxSTREAM For Turbines
- Is now capable of incorporating drilled nozzles in turbine designs, which opens the door for supersonic turbines to be designed and analyzed with precision and accuracy.
- AxSTREAM RotorDynamics
- Received several features and capabilities in 2021. These include, but are not limited to:
- The potential to model the position of the static moment acting on the shaft to correctly represent the moment along the rotor.
- The ability to account for crank inertia only, the piston pressure only, or both these effects in tandem.
- The ability to investigate the moments and stresses in torsional couplings of reciprocating machines.
- Refined results for angular displacement, velocity, torque, and torsional stresses
- Received several features and capabilities in 2021. These include, but are not limited to:
One of our favorite new events we took part in this year were the Sustainable Energy Seminar workshop and our new training course we hosted in conjunction with the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). In both cases, our focus was on the future!
For the Sustainable Energy focused workshop, our training team introduced engineers to how the AxSTREAM platform is used for creating sustainable energy turbomachinery systems, such as waste heat recovery, nuclear, systems utilizing supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2), hydrogen, and heat pumps.
Attendees got to see how the AxSTREAM platform offers solutions for a wide array of engineering challenges in sustainable energy. Everything from pump, compressor, and turbine aerodynamics and hydrodynamics to rotor dynamics, to thermal-fluid network models were used to show engineers how entire sustainable energy systems can be built from scratch, and how having all these engineering disciplines contained in one program ensure results can be received in just a few hours.
In sum, this seminar offered engineers a great chance to learn more about how AxSTREAM can be an end-to-end solution for sustainable energy system design, analysis, and simulation!
In partnership with AIAA, SoftInWay hosted 12 lectures over 6 weeks, for a total of 24 hours which covered turbomachinery for emerging space applications, specifically in liquid rocket propulsion.
This course covered the entire design process from determining missions’ requirements and their influences on system design, to turbopump component design as well as explored the benefits of using a flexible, integrated, multi-disciplinary design platform such as AxSTREAM.
Course students were taught the value of having a program like AxSTREAM to “push the envelope” when it comes to rocket engine design, and how having an integrated and automation-capable set of tools in one platform can significantly shorten design cycles and lead times.
As a result, engineers from every kind of space exploration company imaginable attended the AIAA course, with many of them looking for ways to incorporate AxSTREAM into their workflow and shorten their product development times.
Smashing Webinar Records for the Second Year in a Row!
2021 was a good year for our webinar team, as the continuous developments to AxSTREAM meant that more challenging engineering topics could be taken on. After all, we want to keep things interesting!
Some of the topics we covered this year included:
Each of these topics covered an area of concern for turbomachinery engineers.
In the aftermarket industry, reverse engineering can be critical to conducting failure analysis on a turbomachine or to create spare parts on a machine where part availability ranges from scarce to none. Additionally, reverse engineering is invaluable when a company that makes use of turbomachines, such as a refinery or power plant, is looking to digitize their fleet of machines and predict maintenance and prevent downtime.
Cavitation: the longtime enemy of pump reliability and efficiency, and in turn, pump design/analysis engineers. While we don’t like it either, we especially don’t like it if we spent so much time on the initial design of a pump impeller and volute, only for our CFD analyses to show us the cavitation levels are unacceptable. That’s why our engineering and marketing team put our heads together to address this challenge of accurate early cavitation prediction. The result was this webinar! Our engineers covered how AxSTREAM’s hydro design and analysis solvers can reliably utilize low fidelity impeller/flowpath models to predict pump cavitation early, and avoid the pitfall of spending days, weeks, and months on a design only for it to not be suitable.
In our generative design webinar, our team presented the advantages offered by AxSTREAM’s preliminary design module when it comes to front-end turbomachinery design. To use an analogy, instead of utilizing one projectile to hit a target, and then adjusting aim and trying again, AxSTREAM’s approach has users inputting all the parameters to consider such as basic geometry, RPMs, and flow rates, and utilize a shotgun method to determine which projectile or “candidate” is the best fit for your design. Oh, and this is all happening in the time it takes to finish your coffee in the morning (or something stronger in the evening!). The result is an engineer can find their ideal design candidate faster and leave nothing on the table when it comes to performance, efficiency, and reliability, making this methodology the state of the art for turbomachinery design.
To Scale, or Not to Scale? That is the question our engineers and marketing team set out to answer this fall. In this webinar, our team looked at when it is best to design an axial fan from scratch, and when it is better to modify an existing design due to factors like time, cost, application and project requirements. Luckily for turbomachinery engineers, AxSTREAM lets you do both, as we showed in this webinar! We covered the advantages and disadvantages of each design approach, and then presented how AxSTREAM’s integrated nature lends itself to automating both processes. So, no matter which method was best for the project, engineers can be sure it would be done faster inside of AxSTREAM!
In total, we hosted 5 webinars this year, and in addition to addressing greater engineering challenges, our marketing team celebrated an additional achievement: our webinar attendance record was smashed not once, but twice consecutively! We’d like to extend a big thank you to our loyal registrants and attendees who made this possible and have continually come to our presentations and webinars.
More Government Projects
Earlier this year, SoftInWay’s engineers teamed up with Argonne National Laboratories and were awarded an STTR Grant from the US Air Force to integrate elements of the AxSTREAM platform in Argonne’s BatPac software. By working with the BatPac’s developers, SoftInWay’s engineers were able to use AxSTREAM to create a solution for battery sizing and propulsion system integration in electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, also known as eVTOL craft. For R&D teams that are designing the sustainable aircraft of the future, this integrated version of AxSTREAM and BatPac is an asset for estimating the sizing and other critical parameters of the electric propulsion system. You can read more about this here.
Over the summer, SoftInWay was also awarded a NASA SBIR Phase II contract to leverage artificial intelligence to improve turbomachinery designs for use in high-power density engines. SoftInWay worked closely with Raytheon Technologies and Purdue University to expand its work on the project machine, in this case, an axial compressor. By working closely with 2 other leading institutes in turbomachinery R&D, SoftInWay has continued to take part in the American effort to advance mechanical engineering and ensure SoftInWay’s AxSTREAM platform and the methodologies used by SoftInWay remain on the cutting edge. You can read more about this here.
With these achievements, SoftInWay is excited to continue innovating with the US Government and other respected research entities and be a leading force in turbomachinery R&D in 2022.
A New Office
While SoftInWay as a global entity has always maintained a heavy presence in Europe and in the United Kingdom, our recent work with UK-based startups (check out this press release with Orbex) and research institutes called for us to increase our presence in the country. As such, it is with great excitement that we announce we have opened an office in the United Kingdom in the wonderful city of Bristol!
Dr. Vasileios Pastrikakis, a longtime member of the SoftInWay team, will be heading up our UK operations and office, and is excited to be working more closely with all our friends and customers in the region! Want to schedule a visit? The office is located at 27-29 Baldwin St., Bristol BS1 1LT.
Tradeshows are Back!
And what a wonderful feeling it is! The SoftInWay Team was excited to attend 2 tradeshows this year, with the first being the Space Tech Expo which took place in Bremen Germany. Dr. Pastrikakis was there and commented that it was a breath of fresh air to get back out on the road and to meet with customers and other friends of SoftInWay.
Back in the US, the SoftInWay team returned to Houston Texas for the Turbomachinery and Pump Symposia. While attendance may have been lighter than in previous years, it sure did feel good to be back!
We’re hoping to make it out to even more shows in 2022 and beyond, and see all our customers, soon-to-be customers, and friends of SoftInWay face-to-face.
2021 proved to be a challenging, and hard year for us here at SoftInWay, but it also proved to be a successful year for our team. Challenges arose, ensued, and were overcome thanks to the tenacity and the devotion of the entire SoftInWay team. As a result, we had one of our best years yet, and a roaring comeback considering the challenges presented by the events of 2020.
To everyone who has been a part of the SoftInWay team, to our customers, our friends, our followers, and to you all, thank you for being a part of our journey through 2021. We look forward to supporting you in the new year and wish you lots of success and happiness as you head into 2022!