We present an efficient algorithm within the phase field framework for simulating the motion of a mixture of N (N>=2) immiscible incompressible fluids, with possibly very different physical properties such as densities, viscosities, and pairwise surface tensions. The algorithm employs a physical formulation for the N-phase system that honors the conservations of mass and momentum and the second law of thermodynamics. We present a method for uniquely determining the mixing energy density coefficients involved in the N-phase model based on the pairwise surface tensions among the N fluids. Our numerical algorithm has several attractive properties that make it computationally very efficient: (i) it has completely de-coupled the computations for different flow variables, and has also completely de-coupled the computations for the (N−1)phase field functions; (ii) the algorithm only requires the solution of linear algebraic systems after discretization, and no nonlinear algebraic solve is needed; (iii) for each flow variable the linear algebraic system involves only constant and time-independent coefficient matrices, which can be pre-computed during pre-processing, despite the variable density and variable viscosity of the N-phase mixture; (iv) within a time step the semi-discretized system involves only individual de-coupledHelmholtz-type (including Poisson) equations, despite the strongly-coupled phase–field system of fourth spatial order at the continuum level; (v) the algorithm is suitable for large density contrasts and large viscosity contrasts among the Nfluids. Extensive numerical experiments have been presented for several problems involving multiple fluid phases, large density contrasts and large viscosity contrasts. In particular, we compare our simulations with the de Gennes theory, and demonstrate that our method produces physically accurate results for multiple fluid phases. We also demonstrate the significant and sometimes dramatic effects of the gravity, density ratios, pairwise surface tensions, and drop sizes on the N-phase configurations and dynamics. The numerical results show that the method developed herein is capable of dealing with N-phase systems with large density ratios, large viscosity ratios, and pairwise surface tensions, and that it can be a powerful tool for studying the interactions among multiple types of fluid interfaces.
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Researchers should cite this work as follows:
- Suchuan Dong (2014). Efficient Algorithm for Incompressible N-Phase Flows. Purdue University Research Repository. doi:10.4231/R7ZP441V
Data files for the paper "S. Dong, An efficient algorithm for incompressible N-phase flows, Journal of Computational Physics, 276, 691-728, 2014"