Success Story: Performance Analysis of different biomass boiler designs using CFD tools

NCC presenting the success story

NCC Spain

Client/user profile:

A biomass condensing boiler manufacturer used for central heating and hot water circuits in small installations.


Time reduction to carry out a prototype design (boiler size reduction, pressure losses reduction in heat exchanger…)


One partner adapted CFD tools (Snappy HexMesh mesh generator, OpenFoam fluid dynamics software and Paraview post-processing software) to simulate the heat exchanger of a biomass condensing boiler.  All this open-source software was migrated to the NCC cloud infrastructure within the CloudFlow project, whose computational resources were used to run the CFD tools.  

After training sessions for integrating the CFD tools into design process, several improvements over new designs have been achieved.

Key points before agreeing on project:

  • Data confidentiality
  • IPR
  • Efficient implementation
  • Secured infrastructure access
  • Migration to client infrastructure

Technical/scientific Challenge:

Condensing boilers have a higher efficiency than standard boilers as they use the latent energy of water vapor through condensation. One of the challenges for this type of boiler is to reduce the size of the boiler, which would allow it to reach a larger number of buildings and households, as well as reducing material costs.

However, with the methodology previously used, the design improvement is difficult to achieve. In addition, with the initial methodology, the growth of the boilers (e.g., from 50 kW to 100 kW) required a significant investment, as the cost of building the prototype increases as the size of the boiler increases. 

Prior to the project, the estimated time for the design of a biomass boiler was close to 6 months


The introduction of CFD tools, integrated in a cloud environment, in the design process of the condensing biomass boilers.  For the execution of this project, different open software was used, such as the mesh generator (Snappy HexMesh), fluid dynamics software (OpenFoam) and post-processing software (Paraview).

It was also necessary to use large computing infrastructures offered by NCC integrated in the CloudFlow project where the CFD tools were ported. The computational tools were modified to have a user-friendly interface for the end user.

This project has received funding from the European High-Performance Computing Joint Undertaking (JU) under grant agreement No 951732. The JU receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program and Germany, Bulgaria, Austria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Slovakia, Norway, Switzerland, Turkey, Republic of North Macedonia, Iceland, Montenegro