Modeling of fluid-structure interactions with the space-time finite elements: Contact problems

Sunil Sathe, Tayfun E. Tezduyar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)


Fluid-structure interaction computations based on interface-tracking (moving-mesh) techniques are often hindered if the structural surfaces come in contact with each other. As the distance between two structural surfaces tends to zero, the fluid mesh in between distorts severely and eventually becomes invalid. Our objective is to develop a technique for modeling problems where the contacting structural surfaces would otherwise inhibit flow modeling or even fluid-mesh update. In this paper, we present our contact tracking technique that detects impending contact and maintains a minimum distance between the contacting structural surfaces. Our Surface-Edge-Node Contact Tracking (SENCT) technique conducts a topologically hierarchical search to detect contact between each node and the elements ("surfaces"), edges and other nodes. To keep the contacting surfaces apart by a small distance, we apply to the contacted nodes penalty forces in SENCT-Force (SENCT-F) and displacement restrictions in SENCT-Displacement (SENCT-D). By keeping a minimum distance between the contacting surfaces, we are able to update the fluid mesh in between and model the flow accurately.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-60
Number of pages10
JournalComputational Mechanics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Dec
Externally publishedYes


  • Contact algorithm
  • Fluid-structure interaction
  • Space-time finite elements
  • Surface-edge-node contact tracking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Ocean Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics
  • Computational Mathematics
  • Applied Mathematics


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