SimSolid Solar Load: Revolutionizing Structural Analysis in Engineering






SimSolid Solar Load: Revolutionizing Structural Analysis in Engineering

Sourav Das Senior Solution Engineer- GTT Simulation Driven Design


In the realm of engineering, structural analysis plays a pivotal role in ensuring the safety, efficiency, and durability of various structures, ranging from bridges and buildings to aerospace components. Traditionally, engineers have relied on finite element analysis (FEA) software to simulate and analyze the behavior of structures under different conditions. However, conventional FEA methods often suffer from significant computational overhead and complexity, making them impractical for rapid design iterations and real-time decision-making. Enter SimSolid – a groundbreaking technology that is revolutionizing structural analysis by offering unprecedented speed, accuracy, and ease of use. SimSolid is a next-generation structural analysis software developed by Altair Engineering, a global leader in simulation-driven innovation. Unlike traditional FEA tools that require extensive meshing and preprocessing, SimSolid employs a novel computational approach known as polyhedral meshing combined with a unique matrix-free solver algorithm. This innovative combination allows SimSolid to analyze complex assemblies and large-scale models directly from CAD geometry, without the need for meshing or geometry simplification, thereby eliminating the most time-consuming aspects of traditional simulation workflows.

Solar load

SimSolid now incorporates support for solar load as a boundary condition within its thermal steady-state analysis capabilities. This enhancement simplifies the process by automatically assessing and implementing the varying heat flux generated by sunlight onto unshaded surfaces. In practical terms, this means that engineers no longer need to manually calculate or input solar heat effects; instead, SimSolid seamlessly integrates this environmental factor into thermal analyses, offering a more comprehensive understanding of how solar radiation impacts structural behavior. This feature not only saves time and effort but also enhances the accuracy and realism of simulations, ensuring that engineers can account for solar influences with greater precision when assessing the thermal performance of their designs.

The formula for calculating solar load or solar heat flux q on a surface can be expressed as:

G is the solar irradiance (W/m²), representing the power per unit area received from the sun.

 is the absorptivity of the surface, indicating the fraction of incident solar radiation absorbed by the material.

Ɵ is the angle of incidence between the direction of the sunlight and the normal vector to the surface


In thermal analysis, apply heat loads based on the sunbeam’s direction.

  1. In the Project Tree, click on a Thermal analysis to open the Analysis Workbench and choose Thermal Steady-State.
  2. On the workbench toolbar, click the  (Solar Loads) icon.

    The Solar Load dialog will open.

  3. Specify the Sunbeam direction which is based on Global Coordinate axis.

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    On the modelling window, the direction of the sunbeam is denoted as a directional arrow in the triad.

  4. Specify the Absorption coefficient between 0.01 to 1.

    ‘0.01’ denotes the minimum solar flux and ‘1 denotes the maximum solar flux.

    Solar flux is applied to the complete model which is in the modelling window along the specified sunbeam direction. The maximum solar flux (when absorption coefficient is set to 1) will be 1412.11 W/m2.

This formula considers the intensity of sunlight, the surface's absorptive properties, and the angle at which sunlight strikes the surface, which affects the amount of solar energy absorbed. In SimSolid, this formula is utilized to automatically evaluate and apply the variable heat flux from sunlight as a boundary condition in thermal steady-state analysis. The software incorporates this calculation seamlessly, allowing engineers to account for solar effects without manual intervention, thus enhancing the accuracy and efficiency of thermal simulations.

Outcome with solar loads

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Outcome without solar loads