A numerical method for solving the 3D unsteady incompressible Navier-Stokes equations in curvilinear domains with complex immersed boundaries

Liang Ge, Fotis Sotiropoulos

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290 Scopus citations


A novel numerical method is developed that integrates boundary-conforming grids with a sharp interface, immersed boundary methodology. The method is intended for simulating internal flows containing complex, moving immersed boundaries such as those encountered in several cardiovascular applications. The background domain (e.g. the empty aorta) is discretized efficiently with a curvilinear boundary-fitted mesh while the complex moving immersed boundary (say a prosthetic heart valve) is treated with the sharp-interface, hybrid Cartesian/immersed-boundary approach of Gilmanov and Sotiropoulos [A. Gilmanov, F. Sotiropoulos, A hybrid cartesian/immersed boundary method for simulating flows with 3d, geometrically complex, moving bodies, Journal of Computational Physics 207 (2005) 457-492.]. To facilitate the implementation of this novel modeling paradigm in complex flow simulations, an accurate and efficient numerical method is developed for solving the unsteady, incompressible Navier-Stokes equations in generalized curvilinear coordinates. The method employs a novel, fully-curvilinear staggered grid discretization approach, which does not require either the explicit evaluation of the Christoffel symbols or the discretization of all three momentum equations at cell interfaces as done in previous formulations. The equations are integrated in time using an efficient, second-order accurate fractional step methodology coupled with a Jacobian-free, Newton-Krylov solver for the momentum equations and a GMRES solver enhanced with multigrid as preconditioner for the Poisson equation. Several numerical experiments are carried out on fine computational meshes to demonstrate the accuracy and efficiency of the proposed method for standard benchmark problems as well as for unsteady, pulsatile flow through a curved, pipe bend. To demonstrate the ability of the method to simulate flows with complex, moving immersed boundaries we apply it to calculate pulsatile, physiological flow through a mechanical, bileaflet heart valve mounted in a model straight aorta with an anatomical-like triple sinus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1782-1809
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Computational Physics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 10 2007

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by NIH Grant RO1-HL-07262, NSF Grant 0625976 and the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute. We are grateful to Ajit Yoganathan and the members of Georgia Tech’s Cardiovascular Fluid Mechanics Laboratory for providing us with the geometry of the mechanical valve and the leaflet kinematics.


  • Curvilinear coordinates
  • Fractional step method
  • Heart valves
  • Immersed boundaries
  • Incompressible flow
  • Krylov solvers
  • Navier-Stokes
  • Staggered grid


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