Which software should I install?

  • Last Post 10 August 2018
marc1996 posted this 09 August 2018



I want to simulate the behaviour of a PCB Spark Gap with different shapes and gap distances during a transient electric with an especific waveform. It is possible to simulate it with the free softwares? In case that yes, which of the three softwares should I install?

Thank you,



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pgl posted this 09 August 2018

Hi Marc,

The ANSYS Student product provides access to the ANSYS Fluent CFD application which has a spark model. This is normally used for Internal Combustion Engine simulation, but might be applicable to your simulation. See the ANSYS Fluent Help here. (You'll need to download and install the product to see that help link).  Taker a look at that first. 

I'm sure that others on the Student Community will chime in here with other options.    


marc1996 posted this 10 August 2018

Hi pgl,

Thanks for your answer, but, I do not think that will be applicable because the simulation of this spark I think is not in a transient electrical situation. Although, do you think that with ANSYS Maxwell it would be possible? Because in the company I'm working in, we got the license but is not that easy to ask for it, so, I should be sure that maybe with ANSYS Maxwell what I explained is possible to simulate.

I attach a part of a text that I have sended to someone who make tutorials of ANSYS Software in youtube in order to make it clearer to understeand what I want.

I am doing an university project in Lear Corporation about PCB Spark Gaps replacing ESD Capacitors (MLCC). I wanted to simulate the behaviour of the Spark Gaps with different shapes and gap distances in front of the ESD Test that they have to pass. This ESD test is carried out by the IEC 61000-4-2. Using a Capacitor and a resistor, an specific current waveform will goes to the device under test that need to be protected by those spark gaps. It is possible with ANSYS to simulate different PCB spark gaps models with variable gap distances that will have to deviate the current generated by the ESD through it instead of the DUT? Also, would be nice if the deviation only happens from an specific voltage (Breakdown voltage), because if the dielectric breakdown is not broken, the spark will not occur and the current should not be deviated through the spark.

pgl posted this 10 August 2018

Hi Marc,

Thanks for sharing this more detailed description. ANSYS Maxwell can certainly be used to good effect here. You can use the electric field solver to understand the electric Potential, electric Field distribution, and also the electric Field Stress associated with each spark gap geometry and material. You can use the post processing to understand exactly when the point of dielectic breakdown occurs - It won't be able to model the behavior of the arc itself, but your goal is to understand at which voltage breakdown occurs and the spark gap discharges. So yes I believe Maxwell has you covered.

I located this most excellent Masters Thesis by Karthik Reddy Venna, which looks at the dielectric strength of HV vacuum interupters. Although these devices are a largers scale than PCB spark gaps, the simulations and methods described are directly applicable. Please take a look:

A Simulation Analysis to Improve the Dielectric Strength Inside High Voltage Vacuum Interrupters