Grilling with SOLIDWORKS Simulation Professional – Thermal Study

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We all know it’s way too cold to cook burgers on the outdoor grill this time of year. For some, the grill might even be covered in snow! With the right seasonings, however, pan fried burgers will do just fine. But although I’ve got the timing down using the grill, I’m not sure how long to cook them in a pan to get a medium rare result. SOLIDWORKS Simulation Professional thermal study can help with that. So, grab a skillet, some spices and a couple pounds of ground Angus beef and let’s get started!

For our study, we are going to “cook” two burgers using a stainless-steel pan. I’ve seasoned them with the perfect blend of spices and we are ready to go. Yours Truly gets the larger one!

A transient thermal study was created in SOLIDWORKS Simulation with a time step of 10 seconds and total solution time of 5 minutes (300 seconds). The pan’s stainless-steel properties come from the SOLIDWORKS material database. For the beef patties, I created a custom material property set using data from www.EngineeringToolbox.com.

Setup is easy. The thermostat feature was used to realistically control a 1500 W power source applied to the bottom of the pan on a split face representing the shape of the heating element. The thermostat control is based on the temperature near the heating element surface and turns the power source on when the reference temperature is below 400 F and off when it reaches 500 F.

The initial temperatures were set to 70 F for the cooking parts and 50 F for the burger patties. Convection boundary conditions were applied to the patties and the pan’s cooking surfaces and handle.

After solving the study, we can see that the thermostatically controlled heating element has kept the pan at approximately 380 F at the center “Temp Sensor” below and our burgers are ready to be flipped for final cooking on the other side!

The burger patties cook at approximately the same rate and in about 4.5 minutes (282 seconds) the center temperature reaches 150 F, perfect for a “medium done” burger with a bit of pink coloring in the middle (light blue in Simulation language!). For a more gradual and even cooking, we could use a thicker pan with more thermal inertia, something like a cast-iron skillet, but would it be worth the wait?

SOLIDWORKS Simulation could help us evaluate that option by copying our existing study to a new one based on a thicker pan geometry. All the settings from the first study come over into the copied study and we are ready to run and evaluate the results. We could also use the Optimization study to look at multiple “what-if?” scenarios. We’ll save that for a later date, however, because right now, I’m feeling hungry and ready to enjoy a perfectly cooked burger!

As they say on the cooking shows, “Happy cooking!” – with SOLIDWORKS Simulation thermal studies.

Kurt Kurtin

CATI Technical Manager, SOLIDWORKS Simulation and Electrical Products