Finite element analysis (FEA) is the technique of solving differential equations by subdividing the domain into elements. Finite element analysis is used for structural and stress analysis, thermal analysis, electromagnetic analysis and for the solution of many other differential equations. This technology, although seemingly ubiquitous, still requires a great deal of expertise for the accurate solution of mission-critical projects.
Computational Fluid Dynamics, or CFD, is used to predict the characteristics of fluid flow such as velocity, pressure, temperature, mass-fraction, particle dispersion, free-surface location, and many other significant properties of the flow. When the enthalpy equation is solved as well as the flow equations, CFD can be used to predict thermal conduction in a solid and the convection in the fluid, which enables verification of complicated heat transfer equipment.
Heat transfer equipment exhibit complicated and typically non-linear thermal characteristics. The convection coefficients depend on the wall temperature, radiation is always non-linear, phase changes in the material will introduce strong nonlinearities that are often difficult to solve. Thermal analysis is not limited to typical heat exchangers, electronic equipment such as LED lighting, although more efficient than incandescent lighting, still produce heat that must be managed and are less tolerant of high temperatures.