Acta Mechanica Sinica

, Volume 31, Issue 3, pp 303–318 | Cite as

Direct modeling for computational fluid dynamics

research paper


All fluid dynamic equations are valid under their modeling scales, such as the particle mean free path and mean collision time scale of the Boltzmann equation and the hydrodynamic scale of the Navier–Stokes (NS) equations. The current computational fluid dynamics (CFD) focuses on the numerical solution of partial differential equations (PDEs), and its aim is to get the accurate solution of these governing equations. Under such a CFD practice, it is hard to develop a unified scheme that covers flow physics from kinetic to hydrodynamic scales continuously because there is no such governing equation which could make a smooth transition from the Boltzmann to the NS modeling. The study of fluid dynamics needs to go beyond the traditional numerical partial differential equations. The emerging engineering applications, such as air-vehicle design for near-space flight and flow and heat transfer in micro-devices, do require further expansion of the concept of gas dynamics to a larger domain of physical reality, rather than the traditional distinguishable governing equations. At the current stage, the non-equilibrium flow physics has not yet been well explored or clearly understood due to the lack of appropriate tools. Unfortunately, under the current numerical PDE approach, it is hard to develop such a meaningful tool due to the absence of valid PDEs. In order to construct multiscale and multiphysics simulation methods similar to the modeling process of constructing the Boltzmann or the NS governing equations, the development of a numerical algorithm should be based on the first principle of physical modeling. In this paper, instead of following the traditional numerical PDE path, we introduce direct modeling as a principle for CFD algorithm development. Since all computations are conducted in a discretized space with limited cell resolution, the flow physics to be modeled has to be done in the mesh size and time step scales. Here, the CFD is more or less a direct construction of discrete numerical evolution equations, where the mesh size and time step will play dynamic roles in the modeling process. With the variation of the ratio between mesh size and local particle mean free path, the scheme will capture flow physics from the kinetic particle transport and collision to the hydrodynamic wave propagation. Based on the direct modeling, a continuous dynamics of flow motion will be captured in the unified gas-kinetic scheme. This scheme can be faithfully used to study the unexplored non-equilibrium flow physics in the transition regime.

Graphical Abstract

The most successful governing equations for gas dynamics are the Navier-Stokes (NS) equations in the hydrodynamic scale and the Boltzmann equation in the kinetic scale. Between these two limiting scales, there is no well-accepted equations for non-equilibrium flow description. As shown in Fig.2, the kinetic equation identifies particle transport and collision, and the hydrodynamic ones capture wave propagation. The direct modeling for computational fluid dynamics is to construct a continuous spectrum of governing equation in all scales from kinetic to hydrodynamic scales.


Direct modeling Unified gas kinetic scheme Boltzmann equation Kinetic collision model  Non-equilibrium flows Navier–Stokes equations 



The work was supported by Hong Kong Research Grant Council (Grants 621011,620813 and 16211014) and HKUST (IRS15SC29 and SBI14SC11).


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Copyright information

© The Chinese Society of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics; Institute of Mechanics, Chinese Academy of Sciences and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of MathematicsHong Kong University of Science and TechnologyHong KongChina

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