The main aim of Dr Croft's research has been to develop efficient and accurate techniques for the solution of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) problems in real life geometries. The approach taken has been to extend the Finite Volume approach (FV), which offers a highly efficient solution procedure on Cartesian meshes, to handle the unstructured meshes required to represent the geometries present in engineering applications. The resulting software has been used in a wide range of application areas but has been primarily employed to simulate processes within metals processing industries. These processes require the solution of not only CFD but also may involve structural deformation, electro-magnetic effects, particulate phases, chemical reactions and radiation effects all off which have been resolved in a single software framework.
The principle approach Dr Croft has taken to extend the FV method to unstructured meshes has been based on the collocated cell centred technique. The extension of this method to unstructured meshes results in an efficient solution procedure, when compared with other unstructured mesh methods, but the accuracy is affected by both the mesh quality and the need to estimate face fluxes from elemental values. Developments in both these areas have improved the accuracy of the approach but there are still bounds to its applicability. Dr Croft has been involved in the supervision of PhD projects that have investigated the coupling of vertex based FV, which handles unstructured meshes very well but is not very efficient, with cell centred FV to offer a staggered approach to the hydrodynamics and also the use of multi-grid techniques in parallel and their application using unstructured meshes.