Section: Research Program

Multiphysics modeling

In large vessels and in large bronchi, blood and air flows are generally supposed to be governed by the incompressible Navier-Stokes equations. Indeed in large arteries, blood can be supposed to be Newtonian, and at rest air can be modeled as an incompressible fluid. The cornerstone of the simulations is therefore a Navier-Stokes solver. But other physical features have also to be taken into account in simulations of biological flows, in particular fluid-structure interaction in large vessels and transport of sprays, particles or chemical species.

Fluid-structure interaction

Fluid-structure coupling occurs both in the respiratory and in the circulatory systems. We focus mainly on blood flows since our work is more advanced in this field. But the methods developed for blood flows could be also applied to the respiratory system.

Here “fluid-structure interaction” means a coupling between the 3D Navier-Stokes equations and a 3D (possibly thin) structure in large displacements.

The numerical simulations of the interaction between the artery wall and the blood flows raise many issues: (1) the displacement of the wall cannot be supposed to be infinitesimal, geometrical nonlinearities are therefore present in the structure and the fluid problem have to be solved on a moving domain (2) the densities of the artery walls and the blood being close, the coupling is strong and has to be tackled very carefully to avoid numerical instabilities, (3) “naive” boundary conditions on the artificial boundaries induce spurious reflection phenomena.

Simulation of valves, either at the outflow of the cardiac chambers or in veins, is another example of difficult fluid-structure problems arising in blood flows. In addition, very large displacements and changes of topology (contact problems) have to be handled in those cases.

Due to stability reasons, it seems impossible to successfully apply in hemodynamics the explicit coupling schemes used in other fluid-structure problems, like aeroelasticity. As a result, fluid-structure interaction in biological flows raise new challenging issues in scientific computing and numerical analysis : new schemes have to be developed and analyzed.

We have proposed and analyzed over the last few years several efficient fluid-structure interaction algorithms. This topic remains very active. We are now using these algorithms to address inverse problems in blood flows to make patient specific simulations (for example, estimation of artery wall stiffness from medical imaging).


Complex two-phase fluids can be modeled in many different ways. Eulerian models describe both phases by physical quantities such as the density, velocity or energy of each phase. In the mixed fluid-kinetic models, the biphasic fluid has one dispersed phase, which is constituted by a spray of droplets, with a possibly variable size, and a continuous classical fluid.

This type of model was first introduced by Williams [46] in the frame of combustion. It was later used to develop the Kiva code [36] at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, or the Hesione code [41], for example. It has a wide range of applications, besides the nuclear setting: diesel engines, rocket engines [39], therapeutic sprays, etc. One of the interests of such a model is that various phenomena on the droplets can be taken into account with an accurate precision: collision, breakups, coagulation, vaporization, chemical reactions, etc., at the level of the droplets.

The model usually consists in coupling a kinetic equation, that describes the spray through a probability density function, and classical fluid equations (typically Navier-Stokes). The numerical solution of this system relies on the coupling of a method for the fluid equations (for instance, a finite volume method) with a method fitted to the spray (particle method, Monte Carlo).

We are mainly interested in modeling therapeutic sprays either for local or general treatments. The study of the underlying kinetic equations should lead us to a global model of the ambient fluid and the droplets, with some mathematical significance. Well-chosen numerical methods can give some tracks on the solutions behavior and help to fit the physical parameters which appear in the models.