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ANSYS Workbench Tutorial for

Transient Thermal Analysis


Transient thermal analyses determine temperatures and other thermal

quantities that vary over time. The variation of temperature distribution
over time is of interest in many applications such as with cooling of
electronic packages or a quenching analysis for heat treatment. Also of
interest are the temperature distribution results in thermal stresses that
can cause failure. In such cases the temperatures from a transient thermal
analysis are used as inputs to a structural analysis for thermal stress
evaluations. Transient thermal analyses can be performed using the
ANSYS or Samcef solver.

Many heat transfer applications such as heat treatment problems,

electronic package design, nozzles, engine blocks, pressure vessels, fluid-
structure interaction problems, and so on involve transient thermal

Point to Remember

A transient thermal analysis can be either linear or nonlinear. Temperature

dependent material properties (thermal conductivity, specific heat or
density), or temperature dependent convection coefficients or radiation
effects can result in nonlinear analyses that require an iterative procedure
to achieve accurate solutions. The thermal properties of most materials do
vary with temperature, so the analysis usually is nonlinear.

Preparing the Analysis

Typically, a steady-state thermal analysis include several steps.

Create Analysis System

Define Engineering Data
Attach Geometry
Define Part Behaviour
Define Connections
Apply Mesh Controls/Preview Mesh
Establish Analysis Settings
Define Initial Conditions
Apply Loads and Supports
Review Results
Create Analysis System
From the Toolbox, drag the Transient Thermal or the Transient
Thermal (Samcef) template to the Project Schematic.
Define Engineering Data
Thermal Conductivity must be defined for a steady-state thermal analysis.
Thermal Conductivity can be isotropic or orthotropic, and constant or

There are several material in the Engineering Data Sources that we can
use directly. By clicking the Engineering Data Sources, then Thermal
Material, then clicking the plus near Aluminium.
Attach Geometry
A step file of a 1U CubeSat can be get from the following website.


1. Select the Geometry cell in an analysis system schematic.

2. Browse to the CAD file from the following access points:
Right-click on the Geometry cell in the Project Schematic and
choose Import Geometry.
3. Double-click on the Model cell in the Project Schematic. The
Mechanical application opens and displays the geometry.
Define Part Behaviour
The properties of the geometry are usually defined as Structure Steel,
we can select several components and change them to Aluminium,
which was added in previous step.
Define Connections
In a thermal analysis only contact is valid. Any joints or springs are

With contact the initial status is maintained throughout the thermal

analysis, that is, any closed contact faces will remain closed and any open
contact faces will remain open for the duration of the thermal analysis.
Heat conduction across a closed contact face is set to a sufficiently high
enough value (based on the thermal conductivities and the model size) to
model perfect contact with minimal thermal resistance. If needed, you can
model imperfect contact by manually inputting a Thermal
Conductance value.

In this case the contact type has already been set.

Apply Mesh Controls/Preview Mesh
There are no specific considerations for steady-state thermal analysis
itself. However if the temperatures from this analysis are to be used in a
subsequent structural analysis the mesh must be identical. Therefore in
this case you may want to make sure the mesh is fine enough for
structural analysis.

It is recommended to use the multizone method, which may help

generate a more reasonable result.
Establish Analysis Settings
For a steady-state thermal analyses you typically do not need to change
these settings. The basic controls are:

Step Controls allow you to control the rate of loading which could be
important in a steady-state thermal analysis if the material properties vary
rapidly with temperature. When such nonlinearities are present it may be
necessary to apply the loads in small increments and perform solutions at
these intermediate loads to achieve convergence. You may wish to use
multiple steps if you a) want to analyze several different loading scenarios
within the same analysis or b) if you want to change the analysis settings
such as the time step size or the solution output frequency over specific
time ranges.

Output Controls allow you to specify the time points at which results
should be available for postprocessing. In a nonlinear analysis it may be
necessary to perform many solutions at intermediate load values.
However i) you may not be interested in all the intermediate results and ii)
writing all the results can make the results file size unwieldy. In this case
you can restrict the amount of output by requesting results only at certain
time points.

Nonlinear Controls allow you to modify convergence criteria and other

specialized solution controls. Typically you will not need to change the
default values for this control.

Nonlinear Controls are exposed for the ANSYS solver only.

Analysis Data Management settings enable you to save specific solution

files from the steady-state thermal analysis for use in other analyses.

Select Analysis Setting, in the Details, change the Number of Steps

to 5.
Input the End time for each steps, the intervals between steps are not
necessarily be the same.

By doing this, we can see the thermal effect various with time.

Define Initial Conditions

For a steady-state thermal analysis you can specify an initial temperature
value. This uniform temperature is used during the first iteration of a
solution as follows:

To evaluate temperature-dependent material properties.

As the starting temperature value for constant temperature loads.

It is better to run a steady thermal analysis, but in this case, for simplify
the procedure, we just set the Initial Temperature Values in the
Details of Initial Temperature as 20 as default.
Apply Loads and Supports
The following loads are supported in a steady-state thermal analysis:




Heat Flow

Perfectly Insulated

Heat Flux

Internal Heat Generation

Imported Temperature

Imported Convection Coefficient

Fluid Solid Interface

Loads and supports vary as a function of time even in a static analysis as

explained in the Role of Time in Role of Time in Tracking. In a static
analysis, the loads magnitude could be a constant value or could vary
with time as defined in a table or via a function. Details of how to apply a
tabular or function load are described in Defining Boundary Condition
Magnitude. In addition, see the Apply Loads and Supports section for more
information about time stepping and ramped loads.
By right click Transient Thermal, we can add different thermal load on
the object.

For a CubeSat, Convection, Radiation and Heat Flux are the most
important part.

After add a Convection load, two highlight cells can be seen in the
Details, which are Geometry and Film Coefficient.
Click Geometry and select all component, then select Apply.
Convection data can be get by click the triangle at the right side of the
Film Coefficient, and select Import Temperature Dependent.
For simplify the analysis, selecting Stagnant Air Simplified Case.
Other time-independent loads such as radiation can also be applied in a
similar way.
Since Heat Flux is a time-dependent variable that might disappear in
eclipse period, therefore we need to click the triangle at the right side of
the Magnitude cell, selecting Tabular (Time). By doing this, we can add
the Heat Flux values we calculated before in the column at the right side.
Please note that it is better to change the Time[s] of step 5 first, the
values of the upper lines shall always smaller than the lower lines.
The Solution Information object provides some tools to monitor solution

Solution Output continuously updates any listing output from the solver
and provides valuable information on the behavior of the structure during
the analysis. Any convergence data output in this printout can be
graphically displayed as explained in the Solution Information section.

You can also insert a Result Tracker object under Solution Information.
This tool allows you to monitor temperature at a vertex as the solution

By right click the Solution button, we can ask the solver to generate
several kinds of result. In this case, we select Temperature.
Review Results
Applicable results are all thermal result types.

Once a solution is available you can contour the results or animate the
results to review the response of the structure.

As a result of a nonlinear analysis you may have a solution at several time

points. You can useprobes to display the variation of a result item over the
load history. Also of interest is the ability to plot one result quantity (for
example, maximum temperature on a face) against another results item
(for example, applied heat generation rate). You can use
the Charts feature to develop such charts.

Note that Charts are also useful to compare results between two analyses
of the same model.

By click the Graph tap at the bottom line, we can see a graph shows the
maximum and minimum temperature various with time. More specific
data shows in the right columns.
The temperature distribution shows in the contour figure in the main
workspace, which can help us analyse the thermal effect on the Cubesat.