National Aeronautics and Space Administration


Date of this Version



Center for Turbulence Research Annual Research Briefs 2012


U.S. government work


In gas dynamics and magnetohydrodynamics flows, physically, the density ρ and the pressure p should both be positive. In a standard conservative numerical scheme, however, the computed internal energy is obtained by subtracting the kinetic energy from the total energy, resulting in a computed p that may be negative. Examples are problems in which the dominant energy is kinetic. Negative ρ may often emerge in computing blast waves. In such situations the computed eigenvalues of the Jacobian will become imaginary. Consequently, the initial value problem for the linearized system will be ill posed. This explains why failure of preserving positivity of density or pressure may cause blow-ups of the numerical algorithm. The adhoc methods in numerical strategy which modify the computed negative density and/or the computed negative pressure to be positive are neither a conservative cure nor a stable solution. Conservative positivity-preserving schemes are more appropriate for such flow problems.

The goal of this study is to compare the results obtained by non-positivity-preserving methods with the recently developed positivity-preserving schemes for representative test cases. In particular the more difficult 3D Noh and Sedov problems are considered. These test cases are chosen because of the negative pressure/density most often exhibited by standard high-order shock-capturing schemes. The simulation of a hypersonic nonequilibrium viscous shock tube that is related to the NASA Electric Arc Shock Tube (EAST) is also included. EAST is a high-temperature and high Mach number viscous nonequilibrium flow consisting of 13 species. In addition, as most common shock-capturing schemes have been developed for problems without source terms, when applied to problems with nonlinear and/or stiff source terms these methods can result in spurious solutions, even when solving a conservative system of equations with a conservative scheme. This kind of behavior can be observed even for a scalar case (LeVeque & Yee 1990) as well as for the case consisting of two species and one reaction (Wang et al. 2012).