An MPI parallel level-set algorithm for propagating front curvature dependent detonation shock fronts in complex geometries

Alberto Hernández, John B. Bdzil, D. Scott Stewart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present a parallel, two-dimensional, grid-based algorithm for solving a level-set function PDE that arises in Detonation Shock Dynamics (DSD). In the DSD limit, the detonation shock propagates at a speed that is a function of the curvature of the shock surface, subject to a set of boundary conditions applied along the boundaries of the detonating explosive. Our method solves for the full level-set function field, φ(x, y, t), that locates the detonation shock with a modified level-set function PDE that continuously renormalises the level-set function to a distance function based off of the locus of the shock surface, φ(x, y, t)=0. The boundary conditions are applied with ghost nodes that are sorted according to their connectivity to the interior explosive nodes. This allows the boundary conditions to be applied via a local, direct evaluation procedure. We give an extension of this boundary condition application method to three dimensions. Our parallel algorithm is based on a domain-decomposition model which uses the Message-Passing Interface (MPI) paradigm. The computational order of the full level-set algorithm, which is O(N4), where N is the number of grid points along a coordinate line, makes an MPI-based algorithm an attractive alternative. This parallel model partitions the overall explosive domain into smaller sub-domains which in turn get mapped onto processors that are topologically arranged into a two-dimensional rectangular grid. A comparison of our numerical solution with an exact solution to the problem of a detonation rate stick shows that our numerical solution converges at better than first-order accuracy as measured by an L1-norm. This represents an improvement over the convergence properties of narrow-band level-set function solvers, whose convergence is limited to a floor set by the width of the narrow band. The efficiency of the narrow-band method is recovered by using our parallel model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)109-141
Number of pages33
JournalCombustion Theory and Modelling
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2013


  • computational physics
  • detonation shock dynamics
  • level sets
  • parallel computing
  • reactive flow

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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