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Preprint 2020-21

Gonzalo A. Benavides, Sergio Caucao, Gabriel N. Gatica, Alejandro A. Hopper:

A new non-augmented and momentum-conserving fully-mixed finite element method for a coupled flow-transport problem


We propose and analyze a new mixed finite element method for the coupling of the Stokes equations with a transport problem modelled by a scalar nonlinear convection-diffusion problem. Our approach is based on the introduction of the Cauchy fluid stress and two vector unknowns involving the gradient and the total flux of the concentration. The introduction of these further unknowns lead to a mixed formulation in a Banach space framework in both Stokes and transport equations, where the aforementioned stress tensor and vector unknowns, together with the velocity and the concentration, are the main unknowns of the system. In this way, and differently from the techniques previously developed for this and related coupled problems, no augmentation procedure needs to be incorporated now into the formulation nor into the solvability analysis. The resulting non-augmented scheme is then written equivalently as a fixed-point equation, so that the well-known Banach theorem, combined with the Babuska-Brezzi theory in Banach spaces, classical results on nonlinear monotone operators and certain regularity assumptions, are applied to prove the unique solvability of the continuous system. As for the associated Galerkin scheme, whose solvability is established similarly to the continuous case by using the Brouwer fixed-point theorem, we employ Raviart--Thomas approximations of order k ge 0 for the stress and total flux, and discontinuous piecewise polynomials of degree k for the velocity, concentration, and concentration gradient. With this choice of spaces, momentum is conserved in both Stokes and transport equations if the external forces belong to the piecewise constants and concentration discrete space, respectively, which constitutes one of the main features of our approach. Finally, we derive optimal a priori error estimates and provide several numerical results illustrating the good performance of the scheme and confirming the theoretical rates of convergence.

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