Claudio I. Correa, Gabriel N. Gatica, Ricardo Ruiz-Baier:
New mixed finite element methods for the coupled Stokes and Poisson-Nernst-Planck equations in Banach spaces
In this paper we employ a Banach spaces-based framework to introduce and analyze new mixed finite element methods for the numerical solution of the coupled Stokes and Poisson-Nernst-Planck equations, which is a nonlinear model describing the dynamics of electrically charged incompressible fluids. The pressure of the fluid is eliminated from the system (though computed afterwards via a postprocessing formula) thanks to the incompressibility condition and the incorporation of the fluid pseudostress as an auxiliary unknown. In turn, besides the electrostatic potential and the concentration of ionized particles, we use the electric field (rescaled gradient of the potential) and total ionic fluxes as new unknowns. The resulting fully mixed variational formulation in Banach spaces can be written as a coupled system consisting of two saddle-point problems, each one with nonlinear source terms depending on the remaining unknowns, and a perturbed saddle-point problem with linear source terms, which is in turn additionally perturbed by a bilinear form. The well-posedness of the continuous formulation is a consequence of a fixed-point strategy in combination with the Banach theorem, the Babuska-Brezzi theory, the solvability of abstract perturbed saddle-point problems, and the Banach-Necas-Babuska theorem. For this we also employ smallness assumptions on the data. An analogous approach, but using now both the Brouwer and Banach theorems, and invoking suitable stability conditions on arbitrary finite element subspaces, is employed to conclude the existence and uniqueness of solution for the associated Galerkin scheme. A priori error estimates are derived, and examples of discrete spaces that fit the theory, include, e.g., Raviart--Thomas elements of order $k$ along with piecewise polynomials of degree $\le k$. Finally, rates of convergence are specified and several numerical experiments confirm the theoretical error bounds. These tests also illustrate the balance-preserving properties and applicability of the proposed family of methods.