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Simulation of Free-Surface Flows

Samir Muzaferija and Milovan Peri

Introduction to multiphase flows

Theoretical background for VOF-method
High-Resolution Interface-Capturing (HRIC) scheme
Accounting for surface tension effects
Extensions of VOF-method
Waves: generation and propagation
Free surface flows: application examples
Future development
Introduction to Multiphase Flows

VOF-approach is suitable, when

the grid is fine enough to resolve
the interface between two
immiscible fluids.

Sometimes not all parts of the flow

are suited for VOF-treatment

Examples: Atomization nozzle

flow and jet break-up (right) and
flow around a hydrofoil (below)
Interface Conditions

Conditions at an interface between two immiscibe fluids:

Kinematic condition: No flow through interface.
Dynamic conditions: Balance of normal and tangential
stresses (surface tension forces):
VOF: Theory, I

VOF considers a single effective fluid whose properties vary

according to volume fraction of individual fluids:

The mass conservation equation for fluid i reads:

It can be rearranged into an equation in integral form:

This equation is used to compute the transport of volume fraction i.

VOF: Theory, II

The mass conservation equation for the effective fluid is

obtained by summing up all component equations and
using the condition:

The integral form of mass conservation equation (used to

compute pressure correction) reads:

The properties of effective fluid are computed according to

volume fractions:
Interface-Capturing Method, I

For sharp interfaces, special discretization for convective

terms in the equation for volume fraction i is needed (to
avoid excessive spreading).
The method must produce bounded solutions, i.e. each
volume fraction must lie between 0 and 1 and the sum of all
volume fractions must be 1 at each control volume.
Bounded schemes must fall within a certain region of the
normalized variable diagram; the normalized variables are
defined as:
Interface-Capturing Method, II

The boundedness requirement:

The normalized variable

diagram and the proposed
high-resolution interface-
capturing (HRIC) scheme
(details available in STAR-
CCM+ documentation)
HRIC-Scheme, IV

Simulation of sloshing in a tank due to sinusoidal sway motion:

one-cell sharp interface before wave overturns (left) and smeared
Interface after splashing (right), when the interface is in reality not sharp
Interface Sharpening
In order to prevent dilution, one can activate interface sharpening
by setting Sharpening factor to a value >0.
The sharpening model is based on anti-diffusion and acts only in
cells at the interface
This is usually required only for violent sloshing and similar
Local Grid Refinement, I

One should, when possible, align grid with free surface where it is
One should, when possible, avoid vertical grid coarsening in free-
surface zone where its deformation is small
The reason: volume fraction is convected into finer cells and leads
to smeared interface

Flow around a vertical cylinder two grids for the same initial free surface position
Local Grid Refinement, II
Impulsively started flow around a vertical cylinder

Initial value from this cell feeds into next two, from there into next four the smeared
interface does not get sharper by refining time step (only Sharpening Factor helps
but it is better to adapt the grid to free surface that to use artificial anti-diffusion)
Surface Tension Effects, I

The kinematic interface condition is implicitly accounted

for by the transport equation for volume fraction.

The dynamic interface conditions require additional forces

in the momentum equations in cells containing free

Surface tension forces are converted to volume forces:

Since the gradient of volume

fraction is zero away from
interface, these terms are
equal to zero everywhere
except along interface
Surface Tension Effects, II

The unit vector normal to interface is obtained from the

gradient of volume fraction:

The curvature of free surface is obtained from the

divergence of the unit vector normal to interface:

The volume fraction field needs to be smoothed before

the curvature is computed (sharp interface leads to a non-
smooth curvature field).
Surface Tension Effects, III

The so called parasitic currents can develop, if the fluid

moves only slowly or not at all, and the surface tension
effects dominate (high curvature or surface tension

The reason: pressure and surface tension forces must be

in equilibrium when fluid is at rest but the numerical
approximations do not guarantee that (one term is linear
and the other is non-linear):

There are many partial solutions to this problem in

literature, but none works in all situations
Surface Tension Effects, IV

Recently, a new model called Interface Momentum

Dissipation was introduced in STAR-CCM+ to reduce the
effects of parasitic currents

The momentum dissipation term is added to the

momentum equations only in the vicinity of the interface

It acts similarly as an increased fluid viscosity near

interface (more on the gas side): int grad(v)

Interface Momentum Dissipation decreases rapidly with

distance from interface
Surface Tension Effects, V

Where free surface is in contact with wall, contact angle

needs to be prescribed.
Surface Tension Effects, VI

One can distinguish between:

Static contact angle
Dynamic advancing contact angle on dry surface
Dynamic advancing contact angle on wet surface
Dynamic receding contact angle

The contact angle is enforced as:

nfs = - nw cos w + tw sin w

Interface Momentum Dissipation:
Ink Jet Droplet, I

Without IMD

With IMD

Without IMD, parasitic currents are strong (maximum velocity 35.88 m/s);
With IMD, parasitic currents are hardly visible (maximum velocity 8.98 m/s)
Interface Momentum Dissipation:
Ink Jet Droplet, II

Without IMD

With IMD

Without IMD, the interface is smeared behind secondary droplet and at nozzle exit;
With IMD, the interface is sharp almost everywhere
Interface Momentum Dissipation:
Flow in a Slot Coater, I

Without IMD:
Strong parasitic
currents, maximum
velocity 4.97 m/s
(10x web speed)

With IMD:
Very weak parasitic
currents, maximum
velocity 0.506 m/s (1%
above web speed)
Interface Momentum Dissipation:
Flow in a Slot Coater, II
Without IMD:
Front meniscus has
irregular shape due
to high parasitic

With IMD:
Smooth front
Interface Momentum Dissipation:
Flow in a Slot Coater, II

Without IMD:
Flow rate at outlet fluctuates due to
high parasitic velocities

With IMD:
Flow rate at outlet fluctuates less
Interface Momentum Dissipation:
Flow in and Around a Rising Bubble
Left: Without IMD
Strong parasitic currents, maximum
velocity 11.68 m/s, interface smeared
through high velocity normal to it, the
flow inside bubble cannot be

Right: With IMD

Hardly visible parasitic currents,
maximum velocity 0.39 m/s (30
times lower than before), interface is
sharp (resolved by one cell) and one
can clearly see the flow inside
Extensions of VOF-Method

One can add additional models in the equation for volume

fraction (diffusion, sources) in order to model effects like
non-sharp interfaces, phase change etc.
This is the main advantage of this approach compared to
level-set and similar schemes...
VOF-framework is already used in STAR-CCM+ for the
following models:
Evaporation and condensation
Melting and solidification
Wave Models

STAR-CCM+ provides several wave models:

For initialization of volume fraction, velocity and pressure
For transient inlet boundary conditions.

Currently available models:

1st-order linear wave theory
Non-linear 5th-order Stokes wave theory (Fenton, 1985)
Pierson-Moskowitz and JONSWAP long-crested wave
Superposition of linear waves with varying amplitude,
period and direction of propagation (can be set-up via
Time-Accurate Wave Propagation

Accurate wave propagation requires 2nd-order time-integration

Second-order method (quadratic interpolation in time) requires
that the wave propagates less than half a cell per time step.
First-order scheme is always stable but less accurate

Scaled 10 times in vertical direction

Stokes 5th-order wave after 11 periods (8.977 s), resolved by 80 cells per wave-
length (125 m) and 20 cells per wave height (5 m); damping over the last 300 m
Internal Wave Generation
The source term in equation for volume fraction can be used to
simulate injection and suction
which can be used to create waves at free surface
By a suitable choice of the position and shape of the source zone
and an appropriate source term function, one can generate waves
of desired shape
The advantage of this approach: waves radiated by a solid
structure can pass over the source region without reflection (which
happens when waves are created by inlet boundary conditions)
Future Developments: VoF

Improvements to the treatment of contact angle (better

recognition of contact line, distinguishing direction of
motion etc.)
Transition to other multiphase models:
VOF to Lagrangian and vice-versa

Fluid film to VOF and vice versa

Eulerian or Lagrangian multiphase models within VOF

Simulation of Pouring