skip to main content


This content will become publicly available on March 14, 2019

Title: PyFly: A fast, portable aerodynamics simulator

Here, we present a fast, user-friendly implementation of a potential flow solver based on the unsteady vortex lattice method (UVLM), namely PyFly. UVLM computes the aerodynamic loads applied on lifting surfaces while capturing the unsteady effects such as the added mass forces, the growth of bound circulation, and the wake while assuming that the flow separation location is known a priori. This method is based on discretizing the body surface into a lattice of vortex rings and relies on the Biot–Savart law to construct the velocity field at every point in the simulated domain. We introduce the pointwise approximation approach to simulate the interactions of the far-field vortices to overcome the computational burden associated with the classical implementation of UVLM. The computational framework uses the Python programming language to provide an easy to handle user interface while the computational kernels are written in Fortran. The mixed language approach enables high performance regarding solution time and great flexibility concerning easiness of code adaptation to different system configurations and applications. The computational tool predicts the unsteady aerodynamic behavior of multiple moving bodies (e.g., flapping wings, rotating blades, suspension bridges) subject to incoming air. The aerodynamic simulator can also deal with enclosure effects,more » multi-body interactions, and B-spline representation of body shapes. Finally, we simulate different aerodynamic problems to illustrate the usefulness and effectiveness of PyFly.« less
 [1] ; ORCiD logo [2] ; ORCiD logo [3] ;  [4] ;  [5]
  1. Basque Center for Applied Mathematics, (BCAM), Bilbao (Spain); University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU), Leioa (Spain)
  2. American University of Sharjah (AUS), Sharjah (United Arab Emirates)
  3. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
  4. King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Thuwal (Saudi Arabia). Earth Science & Engineering
  5. Curtin University, Perth, WA (Australia). Applied Geology Department; Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Kensington, WA (Australia)
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Journal of Computational and Applied Mathematics
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Name: Journal of Computational and Applied Mathematics; Journal ID: ISSN 0377-0427
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
97 MATHEMATICS AND COMPUTING; Unsteady aerodynamics; Numerical simulations; Mixed-language approach; Potential flow
OSTI Identifier: