Computational Geosciences

, Volume 22, Issue 2, pp 543–563 | Cite as

A finite volume / discontinuous Galerkin method for the advective Cahn–Hilliard equation with degenerate mobility on porous domains stemming from micro-CT imaging

  • Florian Frank
  • Chen Liu
  • Faruk O. Alpak
  • Beatrice Riviere
Original Paper


A numerical method is formulated for the solution of the advective Cahn–Hilliard (CH) equation with constant and degenerate mobility in three-dimensional porous media with non-vanishing velocity on the exterior boundary. The CH equation describes phase separation of an immiscible binary mixture at constant temperature in the presence of a conservation constraint and dissipation of free energy. Porous media / pore-scale problems specifically entail images of rocks in which the solid matrix and pore spaces are fully resolved. The interior penalty discontinuous Galerkin method is used for the spatial discretization of the CH equation in mixed form, while a semi-implicit convex–concave splitting is utilized for temporal discretization. The spatial approximation order is arbitrary, while it reduces to a finite volume scheme for the choice of element-wise constants. The resulting nonlinear systems of equations are reduced using the Schur complement and solved via inexact Newton’s method. The numerical scheme is first validated using numerical convergence tests and then applied to a number of fundamental problems for validation and numerical experimentation purposes including the case of degenerate mobility. First-order physical applicability and robustness of the numerical method are shown in a breakthrough scenario on a voxel set obtained from a micro-CT scan of a real sandstone rock sample.


Cahn–Hilliard equation Phase field Advection Discontinuous Galerkin Finite volumes Micro-CT scan Voxel sets Porous media 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Computational and Applied MathematicsRice UniversityHoustonUSA
  2. 2.Shell Technology CenterShell International Exploration and Production Inc.HoustonUSA

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