Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Richard H. Pletcher


A dual potential formulation for numerically solving the Navier-Stokes equations is developed and presented. The velocity field is decomposed using a scalar and vector potential. Vorticity and dilatation are used as the dependent variables in the momentum equations. Test cases in two dimensions verify the capability to solve flows using approximations from potential flow to full Navier-Stokes simulations. A three-dimensional incompressible flow formulation is also described;An interesting feature of this approach to solving the Navier-Stokes equations is the decomposition of the velocity field into a rotational part (vector potential) and an irrotational part (scalar potential). The Helmholtz decomposition theorem allows this splitting of the velocity field. This approach has had only limited use since it increases the number of dependent variables in the solution. However, it has often been used for incompressible flows where the solution scheme is known to be fast and accurate. This research extends the usage of this method to fully compressible Navier-Stokes simulations by using the dilatation variable along with vorticity;A time-accurate, iterative algorithm is used for the uncoupled solution of the governing equations. Several levels of flow approximation are available within the framework of this method. Potential flow, Euler and full Navier-Stokes solutions are possible using the dual potential formulation. Solution efficiency can be enhanced in a straightforward way. For some flows, the vorticity and/or dilatation may be negligible in certain regions (e.g., far from a viscous boundary in an external flow). It is possible to drop the calculation of these variables then and optimize the solution speed. Also, efficient Poisson solvers are available for the potentials;The relative merits of non-primitive variables versus primitive variables for solution of the Navier-Stokes equations are also discussed.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Steven Gerard Gegg



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

220 pages