Published online by Cambridge University Press: 03 June 2015
In this article we detail the methodology developed to construct an efficient interface description technique — the robust conservative level set (RCLS) — to simulate multiphase flows on mixed-element unstructured meshes while conserving mass to machine accuracy. The approach is tailored specifically for industry as the three-dimensional unstructured approach allows for the treatment of very complex geometries. In addition, special care has been taken to optimise the trade-off between accuracy and computational cost while maintaining the robustness of the numerical method. This was achieved by solving the transport equations for the liquid volume fraction using a WENO scheme for polyhedral meshes and by adding a flux-limiter algorithm. The performance of the resulting method has been compared against established multiphase numerical methods and its ability to capture the physics of multiphase flows is demonstrated on a range of relevant test cases. Finally, the RCLS method has been applied to the simulation of the primary breakup of a flat liquid sheet of kerosene in co-flowing high-pressure gas. This quasi-DNS/LES computation was performed at relevant aero-engine conditions on a three-dimensional mixed-element unstructured mesh. The numerical results have been validated qualitatively against theoretical predictions and experimental data. In particular, the expected breakup regime was observed in the simulation results. Finally, the computation reproduced faithfully the breakup length predicted by a correlation based on experimental data. This constitutes a first step towards a quantitative validation.