Analysis of finite element approximations of a phase field model for two-phase fluids

Xiaobing Feng, Yinnian He, Chun Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


This paper studies a phase field model for the mixture of two immiscible and incompressible fluids. The model is described by a nonlinear parabolic system consisting of the nonstationary Stokes equations coupled with the Allen-Cahn equation through an extra phase induced stress term in the Stokes equations and a fluid induced transport term in the Allen-Cahn equation. Both semi-discrete and fully discrete finite element methods are developed for approximating the parabolic system. It is shown that the proposed numerical methods satisfy a discrete energy law which mimics the basic energy law for the phase field model. Error estimates are derived for the semi-discrete method, and the convergence to the phase field model and to its sharp interface limiting model are established for the fully discrete finite element method by making use of the discrete energy law. Numerical experiments are also presented to validate the theory and to show the effectiveness of the combined phase field and finite element approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)539-571
Number of pages33
JournalMathematics of Computation
Issue number258
StatePublished - Apr 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Algebra and Number Theory
  • Computational Mathematics
  • Applied Mathematics


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