Spectral/hp Finite Element Models for Fluids and Structures



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We consider the application of high-order spectral/hp finite element technology to the numerical solution of boundary-value problems arising in the fields of fluid and solid mechanics. For many problems in these areas, high-order finite element procedures offer many theoretical and practical computational advantages over the low-order finite element technologies that have come to dominate much of the academic research and commercial software of the last several decades. Most notably, we may avoid various forms of locking which, without suitable stabilization, often plague low-order least-squares finite element models of incompressible viscous fluids as well as weak-form Galerkin finite element models of elastic and inelastic structures.

The research documented in this dissertation includes applications of spectral/hp finite element technology to an analysis of the roles played by the linearization and minimization operators in least-squares finite element models of nonlinear boundary value problems, a novel least-squares finite element model of the incompressible Navier-Stokes equations with improved local mass conservation, weak-form Galerkin finite element models of viscoelastic beams and a high-order seven parameter continuum shell element for the numerical simulation of the fully geometrically nonlinear mechanical response of isotropic, laminated composite and functionally graded elastic shell structures. In addition, we also present a simple and efficient sparse global finite element coefficient matrix assembly operator that may be readily parallelized for use on shared memory systems. We demonstrate, through the numerical simulation of carefully chosen benchmark problems, that the finite element formulations proposed in this study are efficient, reliable and insensitive to all forms of numerical locking and element geometric distortions.