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Lecture 6

Converging Two-way FSI Simulations


14. 5 Release

Solving FSI Applications Using


ANSYS Mechanical and ANSYS CFX
1 2011 ANSYS, Inc. July 26, 2013 Release 14.5
Outline
Convergence
This lecture focuses on converging FSI simulations. There are many
controls that can impact convergence, so well start by identifying the
controls available.
Obtaining good convergence requires a methodical workflow. Well
discuss:
Using separate fluid and structural simulations to first identify
any non-FSI problems
Correct initialization for FSI cases
Monitoring convergence
Convergence controls and their effect
Identifying unstable FSI case and how to stabilize the solution
General convergence advice and debug tools

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Convergence

Convergence requires an understanding of the solution


process and the physics that your setup defines
This may be different than the real-world physics
E.g. your initial conditions may be different
When convergence difficulties are encountered, follow
the solution process:
What are the
What is the How does How does
displacements
force passed to the structure the flow field
passed back
the structure? respond? respond?
to CFX?

Use monitor points and backup files to answers these


questions

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Convergence

There are a number of controls that play a role in good


convergence, including:
Initialization
Time Step Size
Stability Controls
Number of CFX iterations per step
Number of Coupling Iterations
Interface Under Relaxation Factors
It is important to understand why a case has
convergence problems before adjusting these controls

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Convergence

Before starting an FSI simulation, you should run


separate fluids and structural simulations using
representative loads:
Checks that the basic setup is correct for each side
Use settings that are as close as possible to the planned FSI
simulation (same time step size, etc)
Structural simulation using a fixed Pressure boundary
A CFX simulation with a fixed boundary or a simply moving
boundary
If its difficult to provide representative fluid loads, you
could run a FSI simulation with loads passed 1-way from
CFX to the structure

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Convergence Initialization

Next, consider how to initialize your FSI simulation. Well


consider a transient 2-way FSI simulation here:
Option 1: No previous steady-state results provided
The initial CFX solution comes from pressure and velocity values set
in CFX
The structure is not pre-stressed (zero initial displacement)
Suitable when the initial fluid pressure field is known and
can be specified accurately (typically zero)
No initial force passed to the structure
Make use of the Reference Pressure in CFX
No other loads on the structure that require pre-stressing

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Convergence Initialization

Option 2: Steady-state CFX results provided


The initial CFX solution comes from a previous steady-state run
The structure is not pre-stressed (zero initial displacement)
Suitable when the initial fluid force on the FSI interface from the
steady state flow results will not cause sudden deformation of the
structure at the start of the transient, causing the solvers to fail
No other loads on the
structure that require
pre-stressing

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Convergence Initialization

Option 3: Steady-state FSI results provided


The initial CFX and structural solutions come from a converged
steady-state 2-way FSI simulation
This provides the most consistent starting point for a
transient simulation
Is suitable when you need to pre-stress/deform the
structure prior to a transient simulation
Run the steady-state FSI case using a Transient Structural
system with Time Integration = Off
Equivalent to a Static Structural simulation, makes the restart
easier
See Restarts section later

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Convergence Initialization

Option 2 (steady-state flow solution) is the most common


way to initialize a transient FSI case
Typically provides a non-zero force to the structure at the
start of the transient
This may be OK, producing a small bump at the start of the
transient that can be ignored when post-processing the results
It may not be OK when:
The fluid is (or is almost) incompressible, particularly when
combined with a small time step
Even small bumps can cause large pressure changes

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Convergence Initialization

It may not be OK when:


The structure is very flexible
The initial force produces large deformations that cause CFX to fail
or produce large pressure changes that are passed back to the
structure
The initial bump causes structural vibrations that take a long
time to die out
Stiffness proportional damping (BETA damping) can be used to
damp out the unwanted high frequency structural response

Force and displacement monitor points help show


whats happening at the start of the run
Remember to track monitor data every iteration so you can see
how the force/displacement respond at each Coupling
Iteration

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Convergence Initialization

For start-up problems go back to the questions outlined


earlier:
What are the initial forces passed to the structure?
If theres a large step change in the forces, how would you expect
the structure to respond, given your time step?
What displacements can you expect?
How would you expect the fluid system to respond to those
displacements, given your time step?
Transient start-up robustness problems are often made
worse by reducing the time step size
For a given deformation, the fluid has less time to respond ->
larger acceleration, larger pressure changes

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Convergence Controls

There are a number of convergence controls, so its easy


to head down the wrong path
In general start with:
Default # of Coupling Iterations: Min: 1, Max 10 (for transients)
Increase the interface Under Relaxation Factor to 1 (under
Solver Control > External Coupling)
Perhaps 3 or 4 CFX iterations per Coupling Iteration (for
transients), but this is case dependent
A Time Step Size based on the physics you need to resolve
At least 1/20th of the highest structural frequency of interest
Flow field Courant number

From this starting point you can adjust the controls


based on the solution behavior
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Convergence Controls Coupling Iterations

Adjust the number of Coupling Iterations when:


A case is converging well, with forces and/or
displacements moving towards a steady value within a
step without oscillating
You just need a few more Coupling Iterations to reach the Data
Transfer Convergence Target
But consider reducing the time step first for transient cases
Steady state cases may need more than 10 Coupling Iterations,
assuming you are using 1 step
Alternatively using 1 Coupling Iteration and many steps
Usually theres no need to change this control for transient
cases (do not make this the first thing you change)

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Convergence Controls URF

Adjust the interface Under Relaxation Factor when:


You are running a steady state case
Should move gradually towards a steady state solution
A typical URF might be 0.5
For transient cases use a value of 1 in general
The physical inertia of the system provides stability that is not
there in steady state cases
Some transient cases are unstable, with forces/displacements
oscillating within a time step
If you can achieve stability by reducing the URF slightly, say no
lower than 0.75, then this is acceptable
Otherwise stabilize with a source coefficient, discussed later

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Convergence Controls URF

Keep the following formula in mind if you adjust the


Under Relaxation Factor:

% D Load Received = (1 ( 1 URF)^Max. Coupling Iters) * 100%

For example, given a URF of 0.25 and a maximum of 5


Coupling Iterations, we have:

% D Load Received = (1 ( 1 0.25)^5) * 100% = 76%

So by the end of the step, only 76% of the change in a


load will have been received by the target solver
Assuming a step change in the load, which then remains
constant

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Convergence Controls CFX Iterations
Judging the number of CFX iterations to use per Coupling Iteration
requires you to watch the force monitor point behavior

1 Time step shown

Too many CFX iterations per


Coupling Step wasted CPU. A
reasonable force for this
Coupling Iteration could be
obtained in fewer CFX iterations.

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Convergence Controls CFX Iterations
Too few CFX iterations per
Time step 1 Time step 2 Time step 3
Coupling Iteration will need
to use more Coupling Iterations
The force is changing steadily
throughout the time step, with
no discontinuity from one
Coupling Iteration to the next
More CFX iterations with fewer
Coupling Iterations would 20 Coupling Steps
per Time Step
achieve convergence faster, but
may be less robust

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Convergence Controls CFX Iterations
1 Time Step
Reasonable number of CFX
iterations
The force is just starting to
flatten out within each
Coupling Iteration
No point fully converging force
each Coupling Iteration, since
it will change in the next one
Less CFX iterations can help stability keeps tighter coupling between
MAPDL and CFX by not letting the force move too far before updating the
displacements
For tightly coupled cases the displacement should be updated before
the force begins to flatten out
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Convergence Controls Time Step Size

Time Step Size guidelines are generally the same as for the
individual solvers; a few things to watch for:
Make sure the individual solvers converge well using the
selected time step
As noted earlier, if you have a bump at the start of a
transient, a smaller time step can make this worse, not
better
If the forces/displacements are changing a lot from one
time step to the next, consider reducing the time step
but too small a time step may start to resolve high
frequency structural modes that are not of interest

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Convergence Stabilization

Some FSI cases are unstable no matter what settings are


used for the previous convergence controls
Unstable cases typically include one or more of the
following:
Thin structures
E.g. sheet metal, diaphragms, membranes
Flexible structural materials, e.g. low Youngs
modulus, hyper-elastic materials
Gases modeled as constant density (incompressible)
or liquids

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Convergence Stabilization
To identify an unstable case
1 Time Step
look at the displacement or
force monitor points
Solver failed
Oscillation within a time
step, from one Coupling
Iteration to the next, is
indicative of FSI interface
instability
Force may converge within
each Coupling Iteration, but
to a different value than the
previous Coupling Iteration
with values oscillating and
increasing in magnitude

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Convergence Stabilization

The oscillations will develop in the first time step


The case may fail within in the first few Coupling
Iterations, or it may make it to the second or third time
step, with the oscillations growing in magnitude
It is important to distinguish and unstable case from a
poorly initialized case
A poorly initialized case shows a sudden jump at the start
of the run
Improve the initialization if this causes failure
An unstable case starts with small oscillations that grow
But with highly unstable cases you may only reach the 2nd or
3rd Coupling Iteration, so it can resemble a sudden jump

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Convergence Stabilization
Instability Mechanism:

CFX Mechanical CFX Mechanical


The interface deforms
P in Mechanical due fluid
Forces passed pressure
to Mechanical
Initial pressure
on FSI interface
Displacements
passed to CFX

CFX Mechanical CFX Mechanical CFX Mechanical

P P

Displacements Forces passed


Pressure in CFX passed to CFX The interface to Mechanical Pressure
increases more deforms in decreases in
due to reduced Mechanical in the CFX due to
volume opposite direction increase in
volume
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Convergence Stabilization

To stabilize these types of cases a


continuity source coefficient (Mass
Flux Pressure Coefficient) can be
added to the FSI interface
boundary via Sources panel
The source (Mass Flux) is zero
The variable values (Temperature,
Velocity, etc) associated with the
source are irrelevant, since theres no
source
Only the Pressure Coefficient is
important

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Convergence Stabilization

From a physical point of view, the source coefficient slows


down the pressure response in CFX at the FSI interface
This means the pressure doesnt increase/decrease as fast in CFX
when a new displacement is received
This damped pressure response allows us to move towards a
converged solution in a controlled way, rather than oscillating
around
A higher coefficient results in more stabilization (i.e. a slower
pressure response)
The source coefficient has no effect on converged results

What coefficient value should be used?


This will be case specific

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Convergence Stabilization
Use trial and error. Look at how the coefficient value
changes the force response on the FSI interface:

Pressure Coefficient = 0

Baseline divergent case.

Force reaches a steady value within


1 Time Step
each Coupling Iteration, but oscillates
from one Coupling Iteration to the next
within a time step. Force diverges
causing solver failure.

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Convergence Stabilization

1 Time Step
Pressure Coefficient = 1e-5

Still divergent, but completes more


Coupling Iterations. Notice the force
response is no longer a step change.

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Convergence Stabilization

Pressure Coefficient = 1e-4

No longer diverges, but still under-


damped. Did not fully converge after
10 Coupling Iterations.

Notice the change from one Coupling


Iteration to the next is clearly visible.
Within each Coupling Iteration the
1 Time Step force changes are slower than
previously.

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Convergence Stabilization

Pressure Coefficient = 1e-3

Now stable, but a bit over-damped.


Not quite fully converged within the
1 Time Step time step after 10 Coupling Iterations.

Notice the change from one Coupling


Iteration to the next is no longer
visible.

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Convergence Stabilization

1 Time Step Pressure Coefficient = 2e-4

Good response. Well converged after


5 Coupling Iterations.

Notice the change from one Coupling


Iteration to the next can still be seen,
but the response is damped enough
that the force doesnt overshoot too
far in the first Coupling Iteration for
each time step.

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Convergence Stabilization

For the case shown a Pressure Coefficient of 2e-4


worked well, but this will be different for other cases
Do not use the coefficient values shown here as a guide for any
other case
A rough estimate may be given by:
(Fluid Density / Time Step Size) * a[m Pa^-1]
where a is the interface deformation for a unit change in
pressure
Always start with small values then increase
The first value you try should still diverge
Avoids falling into a trap where the response is so over-damped
that it appears flat (i.e. converged!)
It also makes it quick to run since the case should fail very early on

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Convergence Stabilization
Note that the response is a function of
the Pressure Coefficient AND the
number of CFX iterations
1 Time Step
1 Coupling Iteration Consider the case shown if you perform
more CFX iterations per Coupling
Iteration each oscillation would extend
further (more unstable), as shown by the
red dotted line
In practice set the number of CFX
iterations to a small number and then
adjust the Pressure Coefficient to get the
optimal response
Theres no point in using lots of CFX
iterations

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Convergence Stabilization

As noted earlier source coefficients have no effect at


convergence, but they do affect residual normalisation
True residual values may be larger than those reported
May need to tighten the convergence criteria
Monitor other convergence measures (imbalances, monitor
points)

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Convergence Stabilization
See 2022119 in the Knowledge Resources > Solutions on the ANSYS
Customer Portal for a recorded demo of stabilizing an unstable FSI case
Note this demo demonstrates the concept using Fluent when the Pressure
Coefficient is set via a Fluent rpvar

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Convergence Advice

A number of red flags that may


indicate you are on the wrong
path to improving convergence:
Use of a large number of Coupling
Iterations (more than 10) per time
step
Use of small interface under relaxation
factors in transient cases (less than 0.75)
A time step size that is much smaller than that required by the
fluid-only or structural-only simulations
A large number of CFX iterations per step, when compared
with a fluid-only simulation

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Convergence Advice

If the run fails:


Check the mapping
Find out which solver failed first look at all the output
files to determine where the error started
Note that if solver A fails, then solver B only finds out about it
through the inability of solver A to communicate
So solver B will contain an error, but the real error is in solver A
If MAPDL fails, were reasonable forces/temperatures/heat flows
passed?
If CFX fails, were reasonable displacements/temperatures/heat
flows received?
Were the individual field solvers converging?
Check Mesh Displacement convergence in CFX

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Convergence Advice

If the run fails:


in the first few time steps, re-run for a limited number
of time steps and/or with a limited number of Coupling
Iterations so that you can generate results files and
examine the results

Monitor the loads within each time step


Otherwise youll have no idea what happing at the FSI interface

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Convergence Advice Thermal Coupling
For Thermal Coupling you can choose
which code receives Temperature and
which receives Heat Flow
Elements adjacent to the FSI interface
with the largest heat capacity ( cp V )
should receive heat flow
They are better able to absorb a heat flow
without a large change in temperature
In most cases this will be the solid side
For cases that are still unstable use the
same stabilization approach as with
force/displacement couplings, but set
an Energy Source Coefficient on the FSI
boundary in CFX to slow the
Temperature response

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Summary
Obtaining good convergence requires a good understanding of
the data transfer process between participant solvers and how
each solver will react to the new boundary data received.
Thought needs to be given to how FSI cases are initialized,
particularly when the initial fluid field will cause significant
structural deformations
Relying on error messages or adjusting controls without
understanding why a solver failed is unlikely to resolve
problems
Examining monitor data and backup files are important tools to
guide parameter changes to improve convergence
Monitor data is also used to identify unstable FSI cases. Source
coefficients in CFX can be used to stabilize these cases

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