Recent years have witnessed more improvement to the SINDA/FLUINT thermohydraulic analyzer than at any other time in its long history. These improvements have included not only expansions in analytic power, but also the additions of high-level modules that offer revolutions in thermal/ fluid engineering itself.

One such high-level module, “Reliability Engineering,” is described in this paper. Reliability Engineering means considering tolerances in design parameters, uncertainties in environments, uncertainties in application (e.g. usage scenarios), and variations in manufacturing as the stochastic phenomena that they are. Using this approach, the probability that a design will achieve its required performance (i.e., the reliability) is calculated, providing an assessment of risk or confidence in the design, and quantifying the amount of over- or under-design present.

The design to be evaluated for reliability will likely have been produced using traditional methods. Possibly, the design was generated using the Solver optimizer, another high-level module available in SINDA/FLUINT. Using design optimization, the user quantifies the goals that make one design better than another (mass, efficiency, etc.), and specifies the thresholds or requirements which render a given design viable or useless (exceeding a performance limit, etc.). SINDA/FLUINT then automatically searches for an optimal design.

Robust Design means factoring reliability into the development of the design itself: designing for a target reliability and thereby avoiding either costly over-design or dangerous under-design in the first place. Such an approach eliminates a deterministic stack-up of tolerances, worst-case scenarios, safety factors, and margins that have been the traditional approaches for treating uncertainties.

In any real system or product, heat transfer and fluid flow play a limited role: there are many other aspects to a successful design than the realm of thermal/fluids that is encompassed by SINDA/FLUINT. Therefore, this paper concludes with brief descriptions of methods for performing interdisciplinary design tasks.

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Brent A. Cullimore