Physical and computational scaling issues in lattice Boltzmann simulations of binary fluid mixtures

M E Cates, J C Desplat, P Stansell, A J Wagner, K Stratford, R Adhikari, I Pagonabarraga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We describe some scaling issues that arise when using lattice Boltzmann (LB) methods to simulate binary fluid mixtures-both in the presence and absence of colloidal particles. Two types of scaling problem arise: physical and computational. Physical scaling concerns how to relate simulation parameters to those of the real world. To do this effectively requires careful physics, because (in common with other methods) LB cannot fully resolve the hierarchy of length, energy and time-scales that arise in typical flows of complex fluids. Care is needed in deciding what physics to resolve and what to leave unresolved, particularly when colloidal particles are present in one or both of two fluid phases. This influences steering of simulation parameters such as fluid viscosity and interfacial tension. When the physics is anisotropic (for example, in systems under shear) careful adaptation of the geometry of the simulation box may be needed, an example of this, relating to our study of the effect of colloidal particles on the Rayleigh-Plateau instability of a fluid cylinder, is described. The second and closely related set of scaling issues are computational in nature: how do you scale-up simulations to very large lattice sizes? The problem is acute for system undergoing shear flow. Here one requires a set of blockwise co-moving frames to the fluid, each connected to the next by a Lees-Edwards like boundary condition. These matching planes lead to small numerical errors whose cumulative effects can become severe; strategies for minimizing such effects are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1917-1935
Number of pages19
JournalPhilosophical Transactions A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Issue number1833
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2005


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