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7.3.15 Symmetry Boundary Conditions

Symmetry boundary conditions are used when the physical geometry of interest, and the expected pattern of the flow/thermal solution, have mirror symmetry. They can also be used to model zero-shear slip walls in viscous flows. This section describes the treatment of the flow at symmetry planes and provides examples of the use of symmetry. You do not define any boundary conditions at symmetry boundaries, but you must take care to correctly define your symmetry boundary locations.


At the centerline of an axisymmetric geometry, you should use the axis boundary type rather than the symmetry boundary type, as illustrated in Figure  7.3.30. See Section  7.3.17 for details.

Examples of Symmetry Boundaries

Symmetry boundaries are used to reduce the extent of your computational model to a symmetric subsection of the overall physical system. Figures  7.3.23 and  7.3.24 illustrate two examples of symmetry boundary conditions used in this way.

Figure 7.3.23: Use of Symmetry to Model One Quarter of a 3D Duct

Figure 7.3.24: Use of Symmetry to Model One Quarter of a Circular Cross-Section

Figure  7.3.25 illustrates two problems in which a symmetry plane would be inappropriate. In both examples, the problem geometry is symmetric but the flow itself does not obey the symmetry boundary conditions. In the first example, buoyancy creates an asymmetric flow. In the second, swirl in the flow creates a flow normal to the would-be symmetry plane. Note that this second example should be handled using rotationally periodic boundaries (as illustrated in Figure  7.3.26).

Figure 7.3.25: Inappropriate Use of Symmetry

Calculation Procedure at Symmetry Boundaries

ANSYS FLUENT assumes a zero flux of all quantities across a symmetry boundary. There is no convective flux across a symmetry plane: the normal velocity component at the symmetry plane is thus zero. There is no diffusion flux across a symmetry plane: the normal gradients of all flow variables are thus zero at the symmetry plane. The symmetry boundary condition can therefore be summarized as follows:

As stated above, these conditions determine a zero flux across the symmetry plane, which is required by the definition of symmetry. Since the shear stress is zero at a symmetry boundary, it can also be interpreted as a "slip'' wall when used in viscous flow calculations.

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