More than just selling a tool to carry out various tasks, COMSOL, a leading simulation software provider, believes in selling new ideas and technology to its customers. As a part of that process, the company recently gave a preview of the latest version of its flagship product – COMSOL Mutiphysics v4.4 – during a conference in Bangalore, where we caught up with Dr Svante Littmarck, President and CEO, COMSOL Inc (C) and Bjorn Sjodin, VP, Product Management, COMSOL Inc (R) as well as Dr Vineet Dravid, Managing Director, COMSOL India (L) for a better understanding of their offerings.
The simulation software COMSOL offers cover a large area of physics, thereby making it exclusive in the market. Products can be tested under many varying physical conditions, with a user-friendly interface, thereby bringing down the product development cycle. The same version of products is available globally, with a few add-ons and additional linkages available, according to the specific requirements of certain users.
The core package is called COMSOL Multiphysics, with about 40 add-on products in different areas. Among these add-ons, about eight are linked to CAD packages and two are general-purpose products for purposes such as optimisation. The company provides live links for MatLab and MS Excel, which lets users to drive COMSOL multiphysics simulations from Excel or Matlab, and synchronically use them together.
The biggest change to COMSOL Mutiphysics v4.4 is in upgrading the complete user interface (UI) to a Windows-based application. The new UI is based on .NET technology that is offered by Windows, moving from the JAVA platform. However, Macintosh and Linux operating systems will continue to be supported by JAVA technology. The new COMSOL Multiphysics v4.4 will be officially launched in a few weeks.
COMSOL credits a very small share of its revenue to the Indian automotive sector, and says that automotive parts suppliers, more than OEMs, are the major users of its product. Globally, the company partners with various companies that have a strong presence in the automotive sector, including the likes of Autodesk Inc, Dassault Systèmes, SolidWorks, MathWorks, PTC, and Siemens PLM.
The main reason for low penetration into the automotive industry is that engineers are usually comfortable with tools they’ve been using for a long time, and are reluctant to switch to new ones. “Engineers are conservative, maybe more so than any other profession, and we get a chance when there’s a new project and the existing tools don’t work,” said Littmarck. For instance, batteries and fuel cells for EVs and HEVs are a multiphysics phenomenon, and that is typically where the company has customers, he added. It offers technical support, hands-on workshops, valuation licenses and proof of concepts to the automotive industry.
EV/ HEV-RELATED TOOLS
COMSOL feels the market in India for batteries and fuel cells is no different from any other country, especially with regards to research carried out by battery, and EV manufacturers. Electro-chemical battery modelling at the cell level, and heat management are two important areas that are worked on, especially in India, said Dravid. Thermal management of batteries is a very important aspect, since the ideal operating temperature of batteries is around 35° C, while the ambient temperature of many cities is around 50° C.
The batteries and fuel cells model, which is an add-on available for COMSOL Multiphysics, allows users to create detailed models of the electro-chemical reactions that take place in a battery. These reactions are the basis for the working of a battery, and are necessary to understand and avoid thermal runaway that causes batteries to catch fire, said Sjodin. He added that this model can be combined with thermal and fluid-flow simulations, in order to manage the entire thermal problem.
The ability to combine many areas of physics, or multiphysics as COMSOL calls it, for simulation purposes is the latest innovation of the company, said Sjodin. This innovation comes from the company’s experience of 15 to 20 years in the field of multiphysics simulation. This addition enables users to continuously evolve the workflow easily and quickly through the UI, by coupling additional physical parameters without much extra work. Sjodin also said cross-disciplinary projects can be run with the use of COMSOL, since it is very easy to move from one area to another, while conducting multiphysics simulations.
Text: Naveen Arul