National Aeronautics and Space Administration


Date of this Version



Journal of Computational Physics 241 (2013) 266–291.


U.S. government work.


The goal of this paper is to relate numerical dissipations that are inherited in high order shock-capturing schemes with the onset of wrong propagation speed of discontinuities. For pointwise evaluation of the source term, previous studies indicated that the phenomenon of wrong propagation speed of discontinuities is connected with the smearing of the discontinuity caused by the discretization of the advection term. The present study focuses only on solving the reactive system by the fractional step method using the Strang splitting. Studies shows that the degree of wrong propagation speed of discontinuities is highly dependent on the accuracy of the numerical method. The manner in which the smearing of discontinuities is contained by the numerical method and the overall amount of numerical dissipation being employed play major roles. Depending on the numerical method, time step and grid spacing, the numerical simulation may lead to (a) the correct solution (within the truncation error of the scheme), (b) a divergent solution, (c) a wrong propagation speed of discontinuities solution or (d) other spurious solutions that are solutions of the discretized counterparts but are not solutions of the governing equations. The findings might shed some light on the reported difficulties in numerical combustion and problems with stiff nonlinear (homogeneous) source terms and discontinuities in general.