OpenFOAM is mature, open source software for computational fluid dynamics (CFD), which is trusted by many thousands of engineers and scientists in industry and academia worldwide. OpenFOAM is free to use, avoiding the high licence costs of proprietary CFD software (estimated at $20,000 per user per year and rising rapidly for parallel simulations). The source code can be freely extended and reveals the workings of OpenFOAM in a transparent manner.
The Complexity of CFD
CFD is highly complex because it combines challenging areas of science — including fluid dynamics, heat transfer, thermodynamics, chemistry and solids — with numerical methods, geometry and mesh generation, data processing, computing and software engineering. OpenFOAM broadly matches the major proprietary CFD software for capability and user numbers, despite having only a small fraction of their resources at its disposal. Its success is due to a dedicated team of software engineers that adhere rigidly to extreme levels of consistency, code reuse and interoperability.
You might imagine that most of the work to produce OpenFOAM is the development new functionality. In fact, development is only a part of a broad range of work needed to meet the critical needs of users: robustness, usability, extensibility and availability. The work includes:
- Redesign: reducing complexity to a sustainable level by modifying code interfaces, refactoring code, reducing duplication and improving functionality.
- Repair: maintaining a tracking system for users to report issues and resolving issues promptly, to improve robustness for reliable CFD calculations.
- Publishing: maintaining code repositories, tools for compilation, packaging for popular systems (e.g. for Ubuntu, other Linux, Windows, macOS), downloads, licensing, documentation, cloud and promotion (e.g. newsletter, social media), to enable users deploy OpenFOAM and use it effectively.
Investment is needed to sustain and grow the OpenFOAM team of software engineers with sufficient skill and experience for the work described above. The OpenFOAM Foundation offers three levels of sponsorship — Silver (€ 5k per year), Gold (€ 25k) and Platinum (€ 100k) — for organisations to support the work required to maintain OpenFOAM. Broadly speaking, Silver is for organisations with individual CFD users, Gold is for organisations with a dedicated CFD group and Platinum is suited to organisations that depend on OpenFOAM at a strategic level.
The OpenFOAM Hub
The OpenFOAM team posts updates about ongoing maintenance of OpenFOAM on The OpenFOAM Hub, an online messaging platform. The Hub is open to all supporting organisations, allowing them to discuss active developments with those involved. Hub Q+A events are also organised (1-2 hours, 4 times per year) with talks and demonstrations previewing the latest features in OpenFOAM and forthcoming plans. All supporters are members of the Functionality “Team” on the Hub, with Silver supporters permitted up to 2 members.
In addition to the benefits above, Gold supporters receive assistance to help their CFD group maintain important analysis capabilities and workflows. The OpenFOAM team can support developments made by the group, either by integrating them into the OpenFOAM code base or by creating convenient interfaces to the developments within OpenFOAM. The OpenFOAM team can mentor the lead developers on software engineering, including providing editorial assistance to publish technical guides on this site. The Foundation will support applications for funding relating to work with OpenFOAM. The Gold supporters can have up to 5 members on the Hub who are additionally registered for the Integration Team.
In addition to the benefits above, the Foundation works with Platinum supporters to achieve long term strategic goals with OpenFOAM. This includes managing major architectural changes to OpenFOAM, e.g. creating new modelling libraries and applications, to support critical analysis
capabilities. For technology companies providing hardware infrastructure, it can include developing new tools and resources to support use of their infrastructure for CFD with OpenFOAM, aided substantially by OpenFOAM’s zero licence cost. The Foundation assists with marketing and promotional activities of the Platinum supporters by: publicising of their events through social media channels; providing a guest speaker for events from the OpenFOAM team; co-authoring marketing literature; co-publishing technical documents including benchmark data. Platinum supporters can have up to 10 members on the Hub who are additionally registered for the Integration and Architecture Teams.