Numerical Analysis of a Parabolic Variational Inequality System Modeling Biofilm Growth at the Porescale

01/02/2020
by   Azhar Alhammali, et al.
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In this paper we consider a system of two coupled nonlinear diffusion–reaction partial differential equations (PDEs) which model the growth of biofilm and consumption of the nutrient. At the scale of interest the biofilm density is subject to a pointwise constraint, thus the biofilm PDE is framed as a parabolic variational inequality. We derive rigorous error estimates for a finite element (FE) approximation to the coupled nonlinear system and confirm experimentally that the numerical approximation converges at the predicted rate. We also show simulations in which we track the free boundary in the domains which resemble the pore scale geometry and in which we test the different modeling assumptions.

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