Stable free surface flows with the lattice Boltzmann method on adaptively coarsened grids

Nils Thürey, Ulrich Rüde

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


In this paper we will present an algorithm to perform free surface flow simulations with the lattice Boltzmann method on adaptive grids. This reduces the required computational time by more than a factor of three for simulations with large volumes of fluid. To achieve this, the simulation of large fluid regions is performed with coarser grid resolutions. We have developed a set of rules to dynamically adapt the coarse regions to the movement of the free surface, while ensuring the consistency of all grids. Furthermore, the free surface treatment is combined with a Smagorinsky turbulence model and a technique for adaptive time steps to ensure stable simulations. The method is validated by comparing the position of the free surface with an uncoarsened simulation. It yields speedup factors of up to 3.85 for a simulation with a resolution of 4803 cells and three coarser grid levels, and thus enables efficient and stable simulations of free surface flows, e.g. for highly detailed physically based animations of fluids.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-263
Number of pages17
JournalComputing and Visualization in Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Adaptive grids
  • Free surface flows
  • Lattice Boltzmann method
  • Physically based animation


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