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Analysis of a Darcy-Cahn-Hilliard Diffuse Interface Model for the Hele-Shaw Flow and its Fully Discrete Finite Element Approximation

By Xiaobing Feng and Steven Wise


In this paper we present PDE and finite element analyses for a system of partial differential equations (PDEs) consisting of the Darcy equation and the Cahn-Hilliard equation, which arises as a diffuse interface model for the two phase Hele-Shaw flow. We propose a fully discrete implicit finite element method for approximating the PDE system, which consists of the implicit Euler method combined with a convex splitting energy strategy for the temporal discretization, the standard finite element discretization for the pressure and a split (or mixed) finite element discretization for the fourth order Cahn-Hilliard equation. It is shown that the proposed numerical method satisfies a mass conservation law in addition to a discrete energy law that mimics the basic energy law for the Darcy-Cahn-Hilliard phase field model and holds uniformly in the phase field parameter $\epsilon$. With help of the discrete energy law, we first prove that the fully discrete finite method is unconditionally energy stable and uniquely solvable at each time step. We then show that, using the compactness method, the finite element solution has an accumulation point that is a weak solution of the PDE system. As a result, the convergence result also provides a constructive proof of the existence of global-in-time weak solutions to the Darcy-Cahn-Hilliard phase field model in both two and three dimensions. Finally, we propose a nonlinear multigrid iterative algorithm to solve the finite element equations at each time step. Numerical experiments based on the overall solution method of combining the proposed finite element discretization and the nonlinear multigrid solver are presented to validate the theoretical results and to show the effectiveness of the proposed fully discrete finite element method for approximating the Darcy-Cahn-Hilliard phase field model.Comment: 30 pages, 4 tables, 2 figure

Topics: Mathematics - Numerical Analysis, 65M60, 35K55, 76D05
Year: 2013
DOI identifier: 10.1137/110827119
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