Continuum mechanics with torsion


This paper is an attempt to introduce methods and concepts of the Riemann–Cartan geometry largely used in such physical theories as general relativity, gauge theories, solid dynamics to fluid dynamics in general and to studying and modeling turbulence in particular. Thus, in order to account for the rotational degrees of freedom of the irregular dynamics of small-scale vortexes, we further generalize our unified first-order hyperbolic formulation of continuum fluid and solid mechanics which treats the flowing medium as a Riemann–Cartan manifold with zero curvature but non-vanishing torsion. We associate the rotational degrees of freedom of the main field of our theory, the distortion field, to the dynamics of microscopic (unresolved) vortexes. The distortion field characterizes the deformation and rotation of the material elements and can be viewed as anholonomic basis triad with non-vanishing torsion. The torsion tensor is then used to characterize distortion’s spin and is treated as an independent field with its own time evolution equation. This new governing equation has essentially the structure of the nonlinear electrodynamics in a moving medium and can be viewed as a Yang–Mills-type gauge theory. The system is closed by providing an example of the total energy potential. The extended system describes not only irreversible dynamics (which raises the entropy) due to the viscosity or plasticity effect, but it also has dispersive features which are due to the reversible energy exchange (which conserves the entropy) between micro- and macroscales. Both the irreversible and dispersive processes are represented by relaxation-type algebraic source terms so that the overall system remains first-order hyperbolic. The turbulent state is then treated as an excitation of the equilibrium (laminar) state due to the nonlinear interplay between dissipation and dispersion.

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The authors are thankful to A. Golovnev for the discussions of concepts of teleparallel gravity. Also, the authors acknowledge stimulating discussions with L. Margolin on the concept of macroscopic observer. Furthermore, I.P. greatly acknowledges the support by Agence nationale de la recherche (FR) (Grant No. ANR-11-LABX-0040-CIMI) within the program ANR-11-IDEX-0002-02. Results by E.R. obtained in Sects. 5 and 7 were supported by the Russian Science Foundation grant (project 19-77-20004). The work by M.D. was funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under the project ExaHyPE, Grant No. 671698 (call FETHPC-1-2014) and by the GNCS group of the Istituto Nazionale di Alta Matematica (INdAM). Furthermore, M.D. acknowledges funding from the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR) through the PRIN 2017 project Innovative numerical methods for evolutionary partial differential equations and applications and via the Departments of Excellence Initiative 2018{2022 attributed to DICAM of the University of Trento (grant L. 232/2016), as well as financial support obtained from the University of Trento via the Strategic Initiative Modeling and Simulation.

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Peshkov, I., Romenski, E. & Dumbser, M. Continuum mechanics with torsion. Continuum Mech. Thermodyn. 31, 1517–1541 (2019).

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  • Riemann–Cartan geometry
  • Torsion
  • Hyperbolic equations
  • Turbulence