Thermal Modelling Software

Could be useful in kiln design, or in seeing what happens to pieces in the kiln.

I have tried Energy 2D, a free and simple 2 dimensional thermal modelling tool. From the examples, it is primarily for use in areas like house design. I failed to get any realistic solutions from it, and it often failed to find a solution.

I've also played with QuickField, a commercial package that offers a free edition limited by the number of nodes. Both 2d and 3d models include steady state heat transfer, and the 2d model includes transient heat transfer. The main restriction in modelling is that whilst it fully models conduction, convection and radiation can only be put in as boundary conditions. This means that, for example, kiln elements can be put in as radiation sources, but it cannot model things in the kiln beginning to radiate heat as they get hotter. Unfortunately even with the 2-d model the number of nodes is too restrictive for anything but the most trivial of problems.

Other thermal modelling tools with free student/community editions:

SimScale is a cloud based system that has a community account, where your model is made public.
It has various heat transfer analysis models:

  • Heat Transfer supports conduction
  • Convective Heat Transfer supports convection and diffuse radiation
  • Conjugate Heat Transfer supports conduction, convection and diffuse radiation

ANSYS is a powerful all-round FEA tool that includes thermal modelling. It has a free student/hobby version which includes steady state thermal modelling as well as a huge number of other tools and a decent limit on model sizes.

Z88 is a free FEA tool from academia. It includes steady state thermal analysis in its Aurora tool.

Range is another free FEA tool, with heat transfer and thermal radiation. Minimal info on the web site, though.

Elmer is another open source tool from academia. It looks very powerful but has no mesh generation facilities, and s probably better geared to those familiar with the maths and modelling behind FEA tools.

Agros is another one from academia that includes thermal modelling, but little info on the web site

FEM Workbench is a finite element plug-in to FreeCAD that allows for FEA modelling using Z88, Elmer or Calculix. Probably good if using FreeCAD for the physical design, or if the UI is better than in any of the FEA tools themselves.