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LES over RANS in building simulation for outdoor and indoor applications: A foregone conclusion?

  • Bert Blocken
Open Access
Review Article
  • 152 Downloads

Abstract

Large Eddy Simulation (LES) undeniably has the potential to provide more accurate and more reliable results than simulations based on the Reynolds-averaged Navier-Stokes (RANS) approach. However, LES entails a higher simulation complexity and a much higher computational cost. In spite of some claims made in the past decades that LES would render RANS obsolete, RANS remains widely used in both research and engineering practice. This paper attempts to answer the questions why this is the case and whether this is justified, from the viewpoint of building simulation, both for outdoor and indoor applications. First, the governing equations and a brief overview of the history of LES and RANS are presented. Next, relevant highlights from some previous position papers on LES versus RANS are provided. Given their importance, the availability or unavailability of best practice guidelines is outlined. Subsequently, why RANS is still frequently used and whether this is justified or not is illustrated by examples for five application areas in building simulation: pedestrian-level wind comfort, near-field pollutant dispersion, urban thermal environment, natural ventilation of buildings and indoor airflow. It is shown that the answers vary depending on the application area but also depending on other—less obvious—parameters such as the building configuration under study. Finally, a discussion and conclusions including perspectives on the future of LES and RANS in building simulation are provided.

Keywords

computational fluid dynamics (CFD) position paper urban physics building physics fluid mechanics 

Notes

Acknowledgements

“Cum omnibus virtutibus me adfectum esse cupio, tum nihil est quod malim quam me et esse gratum et videri. Haec enim est una virtus non solum maxima sed etiam mater virtutum omnium reliquarum” 1

The author expresses his large appreciation to the many pioneers in Building Simulation, both for outdoor and indoor applications, who have built this field to the very successful research and engineering arena it is today, with worldwide networks, journals, conferences, projects and other activities. While only few of them could be cited in this incomplete paper, certainly all are implicitly included in this paragraph of this acknowledgment.

The author is greatly indebted to his four mentors in Building Physics and Building Simulation, in alphabetical order of last name: Prof. dr. ir. Jan Carmeliet, previously full professor at KU Leuven in Leuven, Flanders, Belgium and now Chair of Building Physics at ETH Zurich, Switzerland, Prof. dr. ir. Hugo Hens, emeritus full professor at KU Leuven, Leuven, Flanders, Belgium, Prof. dr. ir. Jan Hensen, full professor at Eindhoven University of Technology in Eindhoven, the Netherlands and Prof. dr. Ted Stathopoulos, full professor at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. The author is also deeply indebted to his mentor in Applied Physics/Fluid Mechanics, Prof. dr. ir. GertJan van Heijst, full professor at the Department of Applied Physics at Eindhoven University of Technology.

The author is most grateful to Prof. dr. Xudong Yang, Editor-in-Chief of Building Simulation. The journal was inaugurated in 2008. The author was invited to join the editorial board in 2014. This special volume of the journal celebrates the 10-year anniversary of this journal. It takes a lot of patience, persistence, dedication and determination to start up a new journal and one could have wondered whether there was a need for yet another journal in the field of building engineering. The current success of this journal and the many excellent papers published in it show that the Editor-in-Chief and the publisher were very right to establish and consolidate this journal. In the past 10 years, Prof. Yang has made the journal what it is today: an indispensable and excellent key medium to disseminate the latest and most important findings in the wide field of building simulation that is respected and appreciated by all colleagues working in the field.

The author thanks the anonymous reviewers for their very valuable and constructive comments that have improved this paper.

“Αρχή πολιτείας απάσης νέων τροφά” 2

The author expresses his gratitude to the senior researchers, PhD students and MSc students in his group in Urban Physics, Wind Engineering and Sports Aerodynamics at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands and at KU Leuven in Flanders, Belgium. The most rewarding and most enjoyable aspect of the job is the opportunity to work with and educate excellent young individuals. Special thanks therefore go to current senior researchers dr.ir. Twan van Hooff, dr.ir. Hamid Montazeri, dr. Alessio Ricci and dr. Yigit Can Altan. Special thanks also go to the PhD students Adelya Khayrullina, Katarina Kosutova, Raffaele Vasaturo, Samy Iousef, Fabio Malizia, Feiyu Geng, Olga Palusci, Antoniou Nestoras, Rahim Rezaeiha, Andreas Pfahl, Zhiyun Wang, Jo-Hendrik Thysen, Anto Moediartianto, Giacomo Alessi, Thijs van Druenen, Xing Zheng, Gerson Fernandes, Paul Mannion, Lili Xia, Yu-Hsuan Juan and Mutmainnah Sudirman. The same warm acknowledgment is given to PDEng students Rob Vervoort, Claudio Alanis Ruiz and Marlies Verbruggen. And to all previous postdocs and PhD students in the team.

Elsevier is acknowledged for the permission to reproduce a large number of figures from previous publications. The American Meteorological Society is acknowledged for the permission to reproduce a few figures from previous publications. We thank Peter Nielsen for the permission to reproduce some figures from his pioneering PhD thesis (Figs. 9a–b). We thank the Belgian artist François Schuiten for the permission to reproduce his drawing of the Forecast Factory (Fig. 3).

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of the Built EnvironmentEindhoven University of TechnologyEindhoventhe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of Civil EngineeringKU Leuven, Kasteelpark Arenberg 40 - bus 2447LeuvenBelgium

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