Handling Neumann and Robin boundary conditions in a fictitious domain volume penalization framework

Ramakrishnan Thirumalaisamy, Neelesh A. Patankar, Amneet Pal Singh Bhalla*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sakurai et al. (2019) [14] presented a flux-based volume penalization (VP) approach for imposing inhomogeneous Neumann boundary conditions on embedded interfaces. The flux-based VP method modifies the diffusion coefficient of the original elliptic (Poisson) equation and uses a flux-forcing function as a source term in the equation to impose the Neumann boundary conditions. As such, the flux-based VP method can be easily incorporated into existing fictitious domain codes. Sakurai et al. relied on an analytical construction of flux-forcing functions, which limits the practicality of the approach. Because of the analytical approach taken in the prior work, only (spatially) constant flux values on simple interfaces were considered. In this paper, we present a numerical technique for constructing flux-forcing functions for arbitrarily complex boundaries. The imposed flux values are also allowed to vary spatially in our approach. Furthermore, the flux-based VP method is extended to include (spatially varying) Robin boundary conditions, which makes the flux-based VP method even more general. The numerical construction of the flux-forcing functions relies only on a signed distance function that describes the distance of a grid point from the interface and can be constructed for any irregular boundary. We consider several two- and three-dimensional test examples to access the spatial accuracy of the numerical solutions. The method is also used to simulate flux-driven thermal convection in a concentric annular domain. We formally derive the flux-based volume penalized Poisson equation satisfying Neumann/Robin boundary condition in strong form; such a derivation was not presented in Sakurai et al., where the equation first appeared for the Neumann problem. The derivation reveals that the flux-based VP approach relies on a surface delta function to impose inhomogeneous Neumann/Robin boundary conditions. However, explicit construction of the delta function is not necessary for the flux-based VP method, which makes it different from other diffuse domain equations presented in the literature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number110726
JournalJournal of Computational Physics
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022


  • Brinkman penalization method
  • Complex domains
  • Embedded boundary method
  • Immersed boundary method
  • Poisson equation
  • Spatial order of accuracy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Numerical Analysis
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computational Mathematics
  • Applied Mathematics


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