Comparative study of the discrete velocity and lattice Boltzmann methods for rarefied gas flows through irregular channels

Wei Su, Scott Lindsay, Haihu Liu, Lei Wu

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Rooted from the gas kinetics, the lattice Boltzmann method (LBM) is a powerful tool in modeling hydrodynamics. In the past decade, it has been extended to simulate rarefied gas flows beyond the Navier-Stokes level, either by using the high-order Gauss-Hermite quadrature, or by introducing the relaxation time that is a function of the gas-wall distance. While the former method, with a limited number of discrete velocities (e.g.~D2Q36), is accurate up to the early transition flow regime, the latter method (especially the multiple relaxation time (MRT) LBM), with the same discrete velocities as that used in simulating hydrodynamics (i.e.~D2Q9), is accurate up to the free-molecular flow regime in the planar Poiseuille flow. This is quite astonishing in the sense that less discrete velocities are more accurate. {In this paper, by solving the Bhatnagar-Gross-Krook kinetic equation accurately via the discrete velocity method, we find that the high-order Gauss-Hermite quadrature can not describe the large variation in the velocity distribution function when the rarefaction effect is strong, but the MRT-LBM can capture the flow velocity well because it is equivalent to solving the Navier-Stokes equations with an effective shear viscosity. Since the MRT-LBM has only been validated in simple channel flows, and for complex geometries it is difficult to find the effective viscosity, it is necessary to assess its performance for the simulation of rarefied gas flows.} Our numerical simulations based on the accurate discrete velocity method suggest that the accuracy of the MRT-LBM is reduced significantly in the simulation of rarefied gas flows through the rough surface and porous media. Our simulation results could serve as benchmarking cases for future development of the LBM for modeling and simulation of rarefied gas flows in complex geometries.
Original languageEnglish
Article number023309
Number of pages14
JournalPhysical Review E
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 25 Aug 2017


  • gas kinetics
  • Lattice Boltzmann method
  • hydrodynamics

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