Higher-order spectral/hp finite element technology for shells and flows of viscous incompressible fluids
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This study deals with the use of high-order spectral/hp approximation functions in finite element models of various of nonlinear boundary-value and initial-value problems arising in the fields of structural mechanics and flows of viscous incompressible fluids. For many of these classes of problems, the high-order (typically, polynomial order p 4) spectral/hp finite element technology offers many computational advantages over traditional low-order (i.e., p < 3) finite elements. For instance, higher-order spectral/hp finite element procedures allow us to develop robust structural elements such as beams, plates, and shells in a purely displacement-based setting, which avoid all forms of numerical locking. For fluid flows, when combined with least-squares variational principles, the higher-order spectral/hp technology allows us to develop efficient finite element models that always yield a symmetric positive-definite (SPD) coefficient matrix and, hence, robust iterative solvers can be used. Also, the use of spectral/hp finite element technology results in a better conservation of physical quantities like dilatation, volume, and mass, and stable evolution of variables with time for transient flows. The present study considers the weak-form based displacement finite element models elastic shells and the least-squares finite element models of the Navier-Stokes equations governing flows of viscous incompressible fluids. Numerical solutions of several nontrivial benchmark problems are presented to illustrate the accuracy and robustness of the developed finite element technology.