Thickness-based adaptive mesh refinement methods for multi-phase flow simulations with thin regions

Xiaodong Chen, Vigor Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Citations (Scopus)


In numerical simulations of multi-scale, multi-phase flows, grid refinement is required to resolve regions with small scales. A notable example is liquid-jet atomization and subsequent droplet dynamics. It is essential to characterize the detailed flow physics with variable length scales with high fidelity, in order to elucidate the underlying mechanisms. In this paper, two thickness-based mesh refinement schemes are developed based on distance- and topology-oriented criteria for thin regions with confining wall/plane of symmetry and in any situation, respectively. Both techniques are implemented in a general framework with a volume-of-fluid formulation and an adaptive-mesh-refinement capability. The distance-oriented technique compares against a critical value, the ratio of an interfacial cell size to the distance between the mass center of the cell and a reference plane. The topology-oriented technique is developed from digital topology theories to handle more general conditions. The requirement for interfacial mesh refinement can be detected swiftly, without the need of thickness information, equation solving, variable averaging or mesh repairing. The mesh refinement level increases smoothly on demand in thin regions. The schemes have been verified and validated against several benchmark cases to demonstrate their effectiveness and robustness. These include the dynamics of colliding droplets, droplet motions in a microchannel, and atomization of liquid impinging jets. Overall, the thickness-based refinement technique provides highly adaptive meshes for problems with thin regions in an efficient and fully automatic manner.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-39
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Computational Physics
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Jul 15

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Numerical Analysis
  • Modelling and Simulation
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computational Mathematics
  • Applied Mathematics


Dive into the research topics of 'Thickness-based adaptive mesh refinement methods for multi-phase flow simulations with thin regions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this