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Visualization of Fluid Flow


We are computing fluid flow through porous media using the Lattice Boltzmann method. In the Lattice Boltzmann method particles are allowed to move and collide on a lattice.  The rules governing the collisions are designed such that the time-average motion of the particles is consistent with the Navier-Stokes equations.    The Lattice Boltzman method has multiple advantages including:

  • its time and space efficient computations that are straightforward to parallelize,
  • it handles complex boundaries without difficulty, and
  • it directly links microscopic and macroscopic phenomena.

Visualization helps develop a conceptual framework for understanding complex physical processes. In particular with fluid flow, visual comparisons with experiment are important to validate models.   

The visualizations were created using a variety of standard scientific visualization techniques and software.  The two-dimensional images were created by taking a cross-section of of the three-dimensional model and mapping fluid density to color and intensity.   


In the three-dimensional images, fluids are depicted with isosurfaces and volume visualization techniques using color, intensity, and transparency to indicate fluid density.  Fluid movement is expressed by assembling visualizations at a series of time steps into animations.  The three-dimensional images also use isosurfaces to delineate the structure of the medium such as the sandstone, or the surface of the tube structure within which the fluid flow is being modeled.   


  • Collaborating Scientist: Nick Martys
  • Parallel Computing: John Hagedorn
  • Visualization: John Hagedorn
  • Group Leader: Judith Terrill



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Created December 9, 2010, Updated June 2, 2021