Adaptive finite element simulation of three-dimensional surface tension dominated free-surface flow problems


  • M. A. Walkley
  • P. H. Gaskell
  • P. K. Jimack
  • M. A. Kelmanson
  • J. L. Summers



An arbitrary Lagrangian--Eulerian finite element method is described for the solution of time-dependent, three-dimensional, free-surface flow problems. Many flows of practical significance involve contact lines, where the free surface meets a solid boundary. This contact line may be pinned to a particular part of the solid but is more typically free to slide in a manner that is characterised by the dynamic contact angle formed by the fluid. We focus on the latter case and use a model that admits spatial variation of the contact angle: thus permitting variable wetting properties to be simulated. The problems are driven by the motion of the fluid free surface (under the action of surface tension and external forces such as gravity) hence the geometry evolves as part of the solution, and mesh adaptivity is required to maintain the quality of the computational mesh for the physical domain. Continuous mesh adaptivity, in the form of a pseudo-elastic mesh movement scheme, is used to move the interior mesh nodes in response to the motion of the fluid's free surface. Periodic, discrete remeshing stages are also used for cases in which the fluid volume has grown, or is sufficiently distorted, by the free-surface motion. Examples are given of a droplet sliding on an inclined uniform plane and of a droplet spreading on a surface with variable wetting properties.





Proceedings Computational Techniques and Applications Conference