Choice of Pressure Boundary Condition in FloWorks


At SOLIDWORKS World 2008, Seth and I had the privilege of getting into a discussion with Bill Dziedzic, FloWorks Technical Specialist at SOLIDWORKS Corp. and Arvind Krishnan, Product manager of FloWorks, about the correct usage of the pressure boundary condition in COSMOS FloWorks. It is to be kept in mind that FloWorks gives a user three choices when assigning a pressure boundary condition – static pressure, total pressure or environmental pressure.

The formal definitions of Static and Total Pressure are as follows:

Static pressure is the pressure indicated by a measuring device moving with the flow or by a device that introduces no velocity change to the flow. The usual method for measuring static pressure in a flow along a wall is to drill a small hole normal to the surface of the wall and connect the opening to a manometer or pressure gage. In the region of the flow away from the wall, static pressure can be measured by introducing a probe, which in effect creates a wall.

Total pressure is the pressure measured by bringing the flow to rest isentropically (without loss). A device for measuring total pressure is the Pitot tube, an open-ended tube facing directly into the flow, where the kinetic energy of the fluid is converted into potential energy.

Bernoulli’s equation states that Total Pressure = Static Pressure + Dynamic Pressure.


The decision to select Static or Total Pressure should be based off real testing procedures (whether the pressure at the outlet is measured by a manometer, or a pitot tube arrangement). In the event that one is unsure, it is always a good idea to pick the Environmental Pressure condition. This ensures that any potential reversals in fluid flow (like vortices across a pressure opening) are accounted for.

NOTE 1: If, during the calculation, a vortex crosses an opening with the Environment pressure condition specified, the pressure will be considered as the total pressure at the part of opening through which the flow enters the model, and as the static pressure at the part of the opening through which the flow leaves the model.

NOTE 2: It is important to remember that FloWorks uses Absolute Pressure values. Hence, 2psig should be specified as 16.69 psi in absolute terms (2 + 14.69psi atmospheric).

2 comments on “Choice of Pressure Boundary Condition in FloWorks

  1. Hi Vikram

    I am currently getting the error “a vortex crosses the pressure opening” when I use the environment boundary condition”. I have tried lengthening the duct at the outlet to get rid of this but to no avail. so here are my Q’s
    1. Is this vortex a result of velocity becoming zero at the boundary when I specify the environment boundary condition?
    2. How do I get rid of this?
    3. Would it help if I used a static pressure condition?


  2. Hi Amar,

    The typical recommendation is to extend the faulty location to capture the full vortex. Did you create a cut plot with vectors and see if you can still view the vortex. Maybe the pipe needs to be made longer to completely capture the vortex.

    If during calculation, a vortex crosses an opening with Environmental pressure, the pressure plot can be equated to a total pressure at the part of the opening where the flow re-enters the model, and static pressure at the part of the opening though which the flow leaves the model.

    If the location of the vortex is not the most important area of design consideration, it may be treated as a by-product of CFD.

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