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An important class of gels are those composed of a polymer network and fluid solvent. The mechanical and rheological properties of these two-fluid gels can change dramatically in response to temperature, stress, and chemical stimulus. Because of their adaptivity, these gels are important in many biological systems, e.g. gels make up the cytoplasm of cells and the mucus in the respiratory and digestive systems, and they are involved in the formation of blood clots. In this study we consider a mathematical model for gels that treats the network phase as a viscoelastic fluid with spatially and temporally varying material parameters and treats the solvent phase as a viscous Newtonian fluid. The dynamics are governed by a coupled system of time-dependent partial differential equations which consist of transport equations for the two phases, constitutive equations for the viscoelastic stresses, two coupled momentum equations for the velocity fields of the two fluids, and a volume-averaged incompressibility constraint. We present a numerical method based on a staggered grid, second order finite-difference discretization of the momentum equations and a high-resolution unsplit Godunov method for the transport equations. The momentum and incompressibility equations are solved in a coupled manner with the Generalized Minimum Residual (GMRES) method using a multigrid preconditioner based on box-relaxation. We present results on the accuracy and robustness of the method together with an illustration of the interesting behavior of this gel model for the four-roll mill problem.


NOTICE: This is the author's version of a work accepted for publication by Elsevier. Changes resulting from the publishing process, including peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting and other quality control mechanisms, may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. The definitive version has been published in Journal of Non-Newtonian Fluid Mechanics, Volume 166, Issues 19/20, 2011. DOI: 10.1016/j.jnnfm.2011.07.002

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