An arbitrary Lagrangian-Eulerian method for simulating interfacial dynamics between a hydrogel and a fluid

Lei Li, Jiaqi Zhang, Zelai Xu, Yuan-Nan Young, James J. Feng & Pengtao Yue

J. Comput. Phys. 451, 110851 (2022).

Abstract - Hydrogels are crosslinked polymer networks swollen with an aqueous solvent, and play central roles in biomicrofluidic devices. In such applications, the gel is often in contact with a flowing fluid, thus setting up a fluid-hydrogel two-phase system. Using a recently proposed model (Y.-N. Young et al., Phys. Rev. Fluids 4, 063601, 2019), we treat the hydrogel as a poroelastic material consisting of a Saint Venant-Kirchhoff polymer network and a Newtonian viscous solvent, and develop a finite-element method for computing flows involving a fluid-hydrogel interface. The interface is tracked by using a fixed-mesh arbitrary Lagrangian-Eulerian method that maps the interface to a reference configuration. The interfacial deformation is coupled with the fluid and solid governing equations into a monolithic algorithm using the finite-element library deal.II. The code is validated against available analytical solutions in several non-trivial flow problems: one-dimensional compression of a gel layer by a uniform flow, two-layer shear flow, and the deformation of a Darcy gel particle in a planar extensional flow. In all cases, the numerical solutions are in excellent agreement with the analytical solutions. Numerical tests show second-order convergence with respect to mesh refinement, and first-order convergence with respect to time-step refinement.