Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Aerospace Engineering


Aerospace Engineering


Faisal Kolkailah


A general finite element method is presented to solve the Euler equations in a Lagrangian reference frame. This FEM framework allows for separate arbitrarily high order representation of kinematic and thermodynamic variables. An accompanying hydrodynamics code written in Matlab is presented as a test-bed to experiment with various basis function choices. A wide range of basis function pairs are postulated and a few choices are developed further, including the bi-quadratic Q2-Q1d and Q2-Q2d elements. These are compared with a corresponding pair of low order bi-linear elements, traditional Q1-Q0 and sub-zonal pressure Q1-Q1d. Several test problems are considered including static convergence tests, the acoustic wave hourglass test, the Sod shocktube, the Noh implosion problem, the Saltzman piston, and the Sedov explosion problem. High order methods are found to offer faster convergence properties, the ability to represent curved zones, sharper shock capturing, and reduced shock-mesh interaction. They also allow for the straightforward calculation of thermodynamic gradients (for multi-physics calculations) and second derivatives of velocity (for monotonic slope limiters), and are more computationally efficient. The issue of shock ringing remains unresolved, but the method of hyperviscosity has been identified as a promising means of addressing this. Overall, the curvilinear finite elements presented in this thesis show promise for integration in a full hydrodynamics code and warrant further consideration.