OpenFOAM® is the leading free, open source software for computational fluid dynamics (CFD), owned by the OpenFOAM Foundation and distributed exclusively under the General Public Licence (GPL). The GPL gives users the freedom to modify and redistribute the software and a guarantee of continued free use. OpenFOAM® is registered trademark ofOpenCFD Ltd, licensed to the OpenFOAM Foundation. Below is further information about OpenFOAM.
OpenFOAM was created by Henry Weller in 1989 under the name “FOAM” and was released open source as “OpenFOAM” by Henry Weller, Chris Greenshields and Mattijs Janssens in December 2004, through OpenCFD, the company they founded. Since then, OpenFOAM has continued to be managed and developed with new versions being released to the public each year.
In 2011, OpenCFD was acquired by SGI Corp with a plan of to offer “a fully integrated CFD solution, where all the hardware and software work together”. All parties agreed to ensure OpenFOAM’s future as exclusively open source software. Therefore, prior to the sale of OpenCFD to SGI, they created the OpenFOAM Foundation, in the US and transferred the copyright of the OpenFOAM software to it. As the copyright holder, the purpose of the Foundation is to distribute OpenFOAM exclusively to the public under the GPL. The OpenFOAM® trademark, which is registered to OpenCFD Ltd, was licensed to the OpenFOAM Foundation so that it could distribute its software under that name.
Following the departure of its CEO, SGI sold OpenCFD to ESI Group in 2012. In 2014, Henry Weller and Chris Greenshields left ESI Group to continue management and development of OpenFOAM. On 10th December 2014 — the 10th anniversary of OpenFOAM’s initial release — they produced and released OpenFOAM v2.3.1. This release also formed the basis of the first public release of the development line of OpenFOAM (
OpenFOAM-dev) through the OpenFOAM source code repository. We relocated the Foundation to the UK in 2014, making changes to its governance structure to encourage funding for maintenance. The changes also encourage greater collaboration from individuals wishing to contribute to OpenFOAM for the public good.
OpenFOAM 2015 Onwards
In March 2015, Weller, Greenshields and Jenya Collings founded CFD Direct which inherited the management and development of OpenFOAM on behalf of the OpenFOAM Foundation. CFD Direct produced OpenFOAM v2.4.0 for release by the Foundation, with help from an emerging group of individuals credited with maintenance, testing and minor contributions. In June, the OpenFOAM Foundation introduced its Contributor Agreement to formalise contributions to OpenFOAM. CFD Direct immediately signed the Agreement, followed by other companies that employed contributors, such as blueCAPE, VTT Technical Research of Finland Ltd and Intel, and some contributors who signed in an individual capacity.
On 3rd November 2015, the Foundation released OpenFOAM v3.0.0, the first major version of OpenFOAM to originate from the public development line,
OpenFOAM-dev. In 2016, Mattijs Janssens signed the Contributor Agreement, bringing the founders of OpenFOAM together again for the release of OpenFOAM v4.0 on 28th June 2016. OpenFOAM v5.0, OpenFOAM v6, OpenFOAM v7, OpenFOAM v8, OpenFOAM v9, OpenFOAM v10 and OpenFOAM v11 were released in July 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023 respectively.
The OpenFOAM Foundation has released #OpenFOAM v11, maintained and produced by @CFDdirect. It includes modular solvers that are simple, flexible and extensible. Thanks to @VTTFinland, contributors and supporting organisations who fund the work. https://t.co/Yv8Q7hVenB
— OpenFOAM Foundation (@CFDFoundation) July 11, 2023
After many years, OpenFOAM still is and always will be free to use, share and develop. We hope it is useful for your work in CFD and you enjoy the freedoms of open source software. That includes its unlimited customisation and free deployment on massively parallel computers. Currently, development of the next version of OpenFOAM and maintenance of the current one are principally undertaken by the team at CFD Direct — as shown by commits to the development repository — with contributions from a growing community of open source CFD enthusiasts. Please join the community in supporting the OpenFOAM project.