A numerical approach for simulating fluid structure interaction of flexible thin shells undergoing arbitrarily large deformations in complex domains

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We present a new numerical methodology for simulating fluid-structure interaction (FSI) problems involving thin flexible bodies in an incompressible fluid. The FSI algorithm uses the Dirichlet-Neumann partitioning technique. The curvilinear immersed boundary method (CURVIB) is coupled with a rotation-free finite element (FE) model for thin shells enabling the efficient simulation of FSI problems with arbitrarily large deformation. Turbulent flow problems are handled using large-eddy simulation with the dynamic Smagorinsky model in conjunction with a wall model to reconstruct boundary conditions near immersed boundaries. The CURVIB and FE solvers are coupled together on the flexible solid-fluid interfaces where the structural nodal positions, displacements, velocities and loads are calculated and exchanged between the two solvers. Loose and strong coupling FSI schemes are employed enhanced by the Aitken acceleration technique to ensure robust coupling and fast convergence especially for low mass ratio problems. The coupled CURVIB-FE-FSI method is validated by applying it to simulate two FSI problems involving thin flexible structures: 1) vortex-induced vibrations of a cantilever mounted in the wake of a square cylinder at different mass ratios and at low Reynolds number; and 2) the more challenging high Reynolds number problem involving the oscillation of an inverted elastic flag. For both cases the computed results are in excellent agreement with previous numerical simulations and/or experiential measurements. Grid convergence tests/studies are carried out for both the cantilever and inverted flag problems, which show that the CURVIB-FE-FSI method provides their convergence. Finally, the capability of the new methodology in simulations of complex cardiovascular flows is demonstrated by applying it to simulate the FSI of a tri-leaflet, prosthetic heart valve in an anatomic aorta and under physiologic pulsatile conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)814-843
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of Computational Physics
StatePublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We acknowledge the financial support from a grant from the Lillehei Heart Institute at the University of Minnesota, NSF grant IIP-1318201 , and U.S. Department of Energy grant ( DE-EE 0005482 ). Computational resources have been provided by of the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Inc..


  • Finite element
  • Fluid-structure interaction
  • Immersed boundary method
  • Rotation-free approach
  • Thin shells


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