Visualization of three-dimensional incompressible flows by quasi-two-dimensional divergence-free projections

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Context: A visualization of three-dimensional incompressible flows by divergence-free quasi-two-dimensional projections of velocity field on three coordinate planes is proposed. Objective: To visualize 3D incompressible flow by 3 two-dimensional plots.Method: It is argued that such divergence-free projections satisfying all the velocity boundary conditions are unique for a given velocity field. It is shown that the projected fields and their vector potentials can be calculated using divergence-free Galerkin bases.Results: Using natural convection flow in a laterally heated cube as an example, it is shown that the projections proposed allow for a better understanding of similarities and differences of three-dimensional flows and their two-dimensional likenesses. An arbitrary choice of projection planes is further illustrated by a lid-driven flow in a cube, where the lid moves parallel either to a sidewall or a diagonal plane.Conclusion: A new method for visualization of 3D incompressible flows is developed and described.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-155
Number of pages13
JournalComputers and Fluids
StatePublished - 25 Jun 2014


  • Flow visualization
  • Galerkin method
  • Incompressible flow
  • Lid-driven cavity benchmark
  • Natural convection benchmark

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)


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