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Harnessing Solar Radiation Simulation for Enhanced Design Precision

In an innovative exploration of environmental interaction with design, Julien Boissat delves into the dynamic realm of solar radiation simulation within SOLIDWORKS® Flow Simulation. This tool stands out by its capacity to meticulously model the influence of solar radiation on objects, factoring in geographical location, temporal changes, and climatic conditions. The essence of this feature lies in its ability to simulate the solar radiation parameters that change with time, thereby enabling designers to visualise the motion of the sun and its impact on the shadow cast by objects throughout the day. This function is particularly invaluable across various sectors including HVAC, architecture, and consumer products, due to its straightforward setup and application versatility.

The Essence of Time-Dependent Simulation

At the heart of Boissat's exposition is a captivating illustration: the shifting shadow of a parasol, meticulously tracing the sun's journey across the sky. Such a model showcases the practical application of defining physical features in SOLIDWORKS® Flow Simulation — specifically conduction, radiation, and time-dependency — while opting out of fluid flow for simplicity. By selecting a specific location, day, and time, alongside adjusting the calculation control options to define the physical time and time step of the simulation, users can generate a series of images that vividly depict the dynamic interplay between sunlight and shadow.

The clarity of the resulting shadow in these simulations is directly proportional to the mesh's refinement, emphasising the importance of mesh precision in achieving accurate visual representations. This process facilitates the creation of an animation, encapsulating the sun's movement and the consequent shadow evolution, which can be saved as an animated GIF for further analysis or presentation purposes.

Practical Applications and Conclusion

The practical implications of this technology are vast, offering a tangible method to predict and adapt to the environmental interactions of designs, be it in adjusting the placement of a parasol or the orientation of a building to maximise natural light while minimising heat gain. Boissat's work not only underscores the importance of incorporating solar radiation simulation in design processes but also serves as a reminder of the simple yet essential practices, such as repositioning our sun protection methods to align with the sun's path.

Furthermore, Boissat extends the utility of this simulation feature by providing access to a model comprising two equivalent projects; one employs the Discrete Ordinates method suited for those with the HVAC module, and the other utilises the Discrete Transfer method, accessible to all SOLIDWORKS Flow Simulation users. This dual approach underscores the adaptability of the tool to various user needs and technical capabilities.

As we navigate through the challenges and opportunities presented by our environment, the integration of solar radiation simulation in design workflows emerges as a critical tool. It not only enhances the precision and efficiency of design solutions but also promotes a more profound understanding of our interaction with the natural world. The invitation to download the sample model further amplifies the potential for exploration and application of this technology across industries, paving the way for innovative solutions that harmonise with the rhythms of nature.

For those keen to delve deeper into the intricacies of solar radiation simulation and its applications, the original content provides a comprehensive exploration and can be accessed here.

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