Mexico Trip Inspires CFD on 'El Castillo'

Sim Specialists recently traveled to Mexico City to deliver onsite FEA and CFD simulation services.  The trip reminded me of a documentary I watched a few months ago about El Castillo, a Mayan structure located in the Yucatan peninsula region of Mexico.

One of the numerous fascinating characteristics of this monument is that during the spring and fall equinox, the shadows cast across the northwest corner and onto the north stairway give the illusion of a descending serpent.

I thought this would be a cool application to validate the Solar Heating capability of Autodesk Simulation CFD.  After researching dimensions, location and orientation, a full scale, quarter-symmetry CAD model was developed and launched into Simulation CFD.  The Solar Heating dialogue is then used to automatically obtain the position of the sun at the Chichen Itza site.

Simulation CFD Solar Heating Dialog


The temperature plots for various times in the late afternoon of the upcoming fall solstice clearly show the development of the serpent shadows as the sun descends in the sky.

El Castillo Solar CFD

 There is some debate on whether this shadowing was a deliberate design feature by the Mayans.  Regardless, it is an impressive structural feat for a civilization that, at the time, had not yet discovered the wheel.