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, within the terms of the licence.
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”. To ensure OpenFOAM’s future as exclusively open source software, the project co-founders formed the OpenFOAM Foundation, a US not-for-profit organisation, prior to the sale of OpenCFD to SGI. The OpenFOAM software was transferred to the Foundation, which is responsible for the guardianship of OpenFOAM and its distribution to the public under the GPL.
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. The Foundation was relocated to the UK in 2014, with changes to its governance structure to attract funding for maintenance activities from large organisations that wish to participate in the evolution of the software. 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 Contribution 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. It was produced primarily by CFD Direct, with a strong contribution from blueCAPE and further contributions credited to 8 other individuals. A patch release version, OpenFOAM v3.0.1, was released on 15th December 2015. 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 Foundation (@CFDFoundation) 28 June 2016
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 freedom that it gives you by being open source, e.g. in 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.