Amazing things can happen when cellular automata have symmetries. Conserve number and momentum and you're a few steps from the HPP gas . Make the momentum flow a bit more isotropic, and you are on your way to the FHP gas . The history I remember is that Hasslacher and Wolfram had overlapped at the IAS early 1980s. On the summer of 1985 Hasslacher visited Frisch in Nice. It was there that they guessed that the hexagonal lattice might brake the strange conservation laws of HPP. After that it was a few days until they had a set of rules for the lattice gas fluid in 2d. From France Hasslacher called Shimomura at Los Alamos and asked him if could implement them. In a few days Shimomura has a crowd staring at his screen watching a simulation of a fluid flow past an obstacle shedding vortices in real simulation time. We can do that today with our smartphones, but at the time it must have been a first.
And now, lattice Boltzmann methods are completely mainstream, and are used everywhere in a huge variety of contexts. I was coding a LB simulation of virus carrying aerosol particles with OpenLB just a few hours ago :)
I’ve seen people speak about applications of LBM-based models in medical contexts like modeling blood in arteries with complex geometries. You can see applications on the pages for OpenLB and Palabos, which I believe are some of the more mature implementations of Lattice Boltzmann. Unfortunately it’s a bit hard to find references to industrial users since in my experience most industrial users don’t advertise the methods that they are using. I usually would find out about them by meeting people from industry at conferences where these tools would be talked about like the SIAM conferences and HPC conferences like SuperComputing. At one of my old jobs where some folks were implementing parallel LBM tools one of our major industrial partners came from the petroleum industry, and they were interested in flow through complex geometries to model fluids + porous rocks.