AFT Fathom to Streamline Fluid Mechanics and Heat Transfer

By Hadley Bjerke, News Writer

Applied Flow Technology has created a software that promises to get you a date and impress your friends, while double checking your work in fluid mechanics and heat transfer courses. Although AFT has a sense of humor when advertising its product, their new AFT Fathom Student seeks to upend engineering courses by improving student understanding of the fundamentals of pipe flow and introducing them to the industry leading tool of professionals.

The product, AFT Fathom, is used by companies such as NASA, ExxonMobil, Walt Disney Imagineering, and DuPont. By giving students knowledge of and practice with tools that are invaluable to highly sought companies, AFT has provided a bridge to gap the distance between theory and practice. The incompressible pipe flow analysis and system modeling software has applications in petroleum and chemical engineering fields, along with many others.

AFT Fathom Students’ main use is to calculate pressure drop and flow distribution in liquid and low velocity gas piping and ducting systems. The software can handle systems that contain a myriad of fluids, including water, petroleum and refined products, cryogens, and low velocity gases. Through their streamlined process of simulating individual system components and their interaction, more of the user’s focus can be on the system and not the mechanics of software manipulation.

The version for students offers three add-on modules that extend the capabilities of the modeling software. The Extended Time Simulation (XTS) models dynamic system behavior that measures how critical parameters vary over time. The Goal Seek and Control feature (GSC) automates the identification of input parameters that will yield desired output values and simulate control functions within systems. The feature defines multiple variables and goals at several locations throughout the system, such as speed, temperature, the open percentage of valves, and the area of spray discharge. The final add-on is Settling Slurry (SSL). The feature models the effects of pumping fluids containing settling solids. The module designed specifically for AFT Fathom can predict settling velocity and onset of deposition, prevent plugged pipes and misapplied pumps, and reduce energy usage.

The company aims for the product to be used by all engineering students to detail modeling for centrifugal and positive displacement pumps, integrate graphing and reporting, and create pump versus system curve generation, along with several other features. The ten dollar product supports both Newtonian and non-Newtonian fluids and includes a built-in library of fluids and fittings. The user friendly website,, has a wide database of video tutorials that explicate the process and provide a short learning curve for the user, along with case studies that show uses for the product and their effectiveness.