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**DOI 10.1007/s00607-013-0294-4
**

Numerical solution of coupled problems using

code Agros2D

Pavel Karban · František Mach · Pavel K

◦

us ·

David Pánek · Ivo Doležel

Received: 5 November 2012 / Accepted: 9 January 2013 / Published online: 26 January 2013

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2013

Abstract New code Agros2D for 2D numerical solution of coupled problems is

presented. This code is based on the fully adaptive higher-order ﬁnite element method

and works with library Hermes2Dcontaining the most advanced numerical algorithms

for the numerical processing of systems of second-order partial differential equations.

It is characterized by several quite unique features such as work with hanging nodes of

any level, multimesh technology (every physical ﬁeld can be calculated on a different

mesh generally varying in time) and a possibility of combining triangular, quadrilateral

and curved elements. The power of the code is illustrated by three typical coupled

problems.

Keywords Higher-order ﬁnite element method · Coupled problems ·

Monolithic solution · hp-adaptivity · Hanging nodes

Mathematics Subject Classiﬁcation 65M60 · 68N01

P. Karban (B) · F. Mach · P. K

◦

us · D. Pánek · I. Doležel

Department of Theory of Electrical Engineering,

University of West Bohemia, Pilsen, Czech Republic

e-mail: karban@kte.zcu.cz

F. Mach

e-mail: fmach@kte.zcu.cz

P. K

◦

us

e-mail: pkus@kte.zcu.cz

D. Pánek

e-mail: panek50@kte.zcu.cz

I. Doležel

e-mail: idolezel@kte.zcu.cz

1 3

S382 P. Karban et al.

1 Introduction

Numerous physical phenomena are characterized by an interaction of several physical

ﬁelds, inﬂuencing mutually one another. From a wide spectrum we can mention, for

example, thermal and force effects of electromagnetic ﬁelds, changes in solid and

liquid structures subject to varying temperature or pressure, or behavior of plasma in

different external conditions. Let us illustrate this category of phenomena by a typical

technical example–induction heating of a steel cylinder (a heat-treatment technology

widely used in many industrial applications) in an inductor carrying time variable,

mostly periodic current, see Fig. 1.

The current passing through the inductor produces in its vicinity time-variable

magnetic ﬁeld that generates induced currents in the cylinder. These currents (whose

density J

i

(t ) lag by almost 180

◦

behind the ﬁeld current density J(t )) produce in

it the Joule losses that are transformed into heat. The temperature of the cylinder

starts growing. We can say that the primary harmonic magnetic ﬁeld in the inductor

produces the secondary temperature ﬁeld in the heated billet. On the other hand, it is

well known that the physical properties of heated materials vary with their temperature.

This also holds for electrical conductivity and magnetic permeability of steel that start

decreasing. Thus, the secondary temperature ﬁeld in the billet affects the primary

magnetic ﬁeld in the inductor. It is obvious that both physical ﬁelds inﬂuence one

another.

When analyzing the process in more details, we can add, moreover, that heating

of the cylinder slightly inﬂuences its geometrical dimension that increase. This effect

is in practice not important and in most cases can be neglected, but strictly speaking,

the above geometrical variations also slightly affect both magnetic and temperature

ﬁelds.

Modeling of such multiphysics (called also coupled) phenomena is still a very chal-

lenging business. Their continuous mathematical models consist of systems of often

nonlinear and nonstationary partial differential equations describing the distributions

of relevant physical ﬁelds, that are often supplemented with a set of ordinary differ-

ential equations describing behavior of present circuits (electric, magnetic, thermal,

mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, etc.). The coefﬁcients of all these equations are

mostly complicated functions of physical parameters of present materials and media

that, however, depend on the state variables such as temperature or pressure.

Fig. 1 Induction heating of a cylindrical billet in an inductor

1 3

Numerical solution of coupled problems using code Agros2D S383

The most difﬁcult task is numerical processing of these continuous models that

should be acceptably fast, robust, and that should provide sufﬁciently accurate results.

The accuracy of results, however, does not depend only on the quality of the used algo-

rithms, but also on the accuracy of the input data and prescribed initial and boundary

conditions.

Nowadays, there exist several packages of ever developing codes that allowprocess-

ing such coupled problems, mostly in technical domains. They can be split into two

groups – commercial professional codes developed by software companies and used

both in industry and academy, and open source codes developed and used mostly in

the academic sphere. The industrial commercial codes (ANSYS [1], Flux [2], Opera

[15], Infolytica [8] and others) are mostly based on lower-order ﬁnite element meth-

ods, work with elements of the ﬁrst and second orders and miss advanced adaptive

techniques. On the other hand, they may be considered user-friendly (they contain

very well elaborated preprocessors and postprocessors). A more powerful code in this

group is COMSOL Multiphysics [3] whose latest versions work with elements up to

the ﬁfth order and a standard is h-adaptivity implemented in it.

The development of codes with advanced adaptive methods is intensively conducted

mostly in the open-source academia groups (such as FEniCS[25], deal.ii [5], Sundance

[26], FreeFem++ [6] and GetFEM++ [7]). But even when they often contain strong

algorithms and procedures, their user friendliness is rather low and some of them are

yet not suitable for solving complicated technical problems. Nevertheless, even in this

domain the progress is fast. Our group has been developing for years software Agros2D

[24] based on the library Hermes2D [36]. And the aim of this paper is to show the

structure of the code, its features, feasibilities and several illustrative examples solved

by this software.

2 Speciﬁc features of our codes

Unlike the mentioned professional codes, Agros2D and Hermes2D exhibit quite

unique features. We can mention the full hp-adaptivity, support of hanging nodes of

any level, multimesh technology (every physical ﬁeld can be calculated on a different

mesh generally varying in time) and a possibility of combining triangular, quadrilateral

and curved elements. Details are provided in the following subsections.

2.1 Implemented adaptivity techniques

Generally, the algorithms of adaptivity start to be applied at the moment when some

local error of solution is higher than the acceptable tolerance. Consider an equation

L f = 0 , (1)

where L denotes a differential operator and f a function whose distribution over some

domain Ω is to be found. If f

**is its approximation obtained by the numerical solution
**

of (1), the absolute and percentage relative errors δ and ε are deﬁned by the relations

1 3

S384 P. Karban et al.

δ = f − f

η = 100

δ

f

. (2)

Not only the above errors can be used for evaluating the quality of the results. Errors

can also be estimated by means of norms. Hermes2D works with three of them:

– Basic energetic norm that is deﬁned by the formula

e =

Ω

δ(Lδ) dΩ

1

2

. (3)

– L

2

norm deﬁned by the relation

e

L

2 =

Ω

δ

2

dΩ

1

2

. (4)

– H

1

norm deﬁned by the relation

e

H

1 =

Ω

δ

2

+grad δ · grad δ

dΩ

1

2

. (5)

Unfortunately, the exact solution f is usually known only in very simple, analyti-

cally solvable cases. Moreover, there exists no general method that would provide a

good estimation of the error for an arbitrary PDE (although for several classes of linear

PDEs we can ﬁnd it). Moreover, in the case of the hp adaptivity the traditional error

estimate (one number per element) is not enough; we must know its distribution over

the whole element. In principle, it might be possible to obtain this information from

the estimates of local higher derivatives, but this approach is not very practical. That

is why we work [35] with the reference solution f

ref

instead, that is obtained either

by a reﬁnement of the whole mesh (h-adaptivity), by enlargement of the polynomial

degree (p-adaptivity) or by both above techniques (hp-adaptivity). In this manner we

get the candidates for adaptivity even without knowledge of the exact solution f . The

library Hermes2D works with very sophisticated and subtle tools based on the above

considerations.

Before the adaptivity loop is applied, the code must initialize the reﬁnement selector

that determines what kind of adaptivity is to be applied. The selector performs the

following steps:

– Selection of the candidates for reﬁnement, computation of their local errors, which

is realized by projecting the reference solution on their FE spaces.

– Computation of the number of the degrees of freedom for every candidate.

– Evaluation of the score for each candidate and sorting the candidates according to

their values.

1 3

Numerical solution of coupled problems using code Agros2D S385

– Selection of the candidate with the highest score.

As mentioned before, the adaptivity algorithm in Hermes needs an actual mesh

solutionandanother solutionrealizedongloballyreﬁnedmesh(the reference solution).

These solutions are subtracted in each adaptivity step in order to obtain an error

estimate (as a function of the position). This function is used to decide which elements

need to be reﬁned and in which way. Hence, the adaptivity loop begins with the global

reﬁnement of the mesh and calculation of the reference solution.

If the error is higher than a given threshold, the adaptation process is started. The

calculated local error in the candidate is ﬁrst evaluated with respect to the way of

adaptivity that should be used. Its weight is selected in the following way:

– w = 2 for the h-adaptivity,

– w = 1 for the p-adaptivity,

– w =

√

2 for the hp-adaptivity.

The score s of a candidate is given by the formula

s =

log

10

ε

ε

0

(d −d

0

)

α

, (6)

where ε is the estimated error in the candidate, d denotes its number of DOFs, ε

0

and

d

0

are selected parameters and α stands for the convergence exponent.

The particular kinds of adaptivity are realized in the following manner:

– h-adaptivity—while the original large ﬁnite element is split to several smaller ele-

ments, the degree of the polynomials replacing the real distribution of the inves-

tigated quantity in them remains the same. This is clear from Fig. 2 left, where

both large element and smaller elements are described by polynomials of the same

order.

– p-adaptivity—the shapes of elements in the region do not change, but we increase

the orders of the polynomial approximating the distribution of the investigated

quantity. The situation is depicted in Fig. 3 right.

– hp-adaptivity—combination of both above ways [32]. This way belongs to the

most ﬂexible and powerful techniques characterized by an extremely fast (expo-

nential) convergence of results. Atypical possibility of its application is depicted in

Fig. 3.

2.2 Multimesh technology

Each physical ﬁeld involved in the coupled task can be solved on quite a different

mesh that best corresponds to its particulars. For example, electromagnetic-thermal

problems are characterized by the inﬂuence of electromagnetic and temperature ﬁelds.

While the domains in which electromagnetic ﬁelds are calculated, are discretized with

respect to their behavior (a very ﬁne discretization in the subdomains with currents

induced by the skin or proximity effect), temperature ﬁelds are usually smooth and

the corresponding mesh can consist of larger elements. Special powerful higher-order

1 3

S386 P. Karban et al.

techniques of mapping are then used to avoid any numerical errors in the process

of assembly of the stiffness matrix. All meshes can, moreover, change in time, in

accordance with the real evolution of the corresponding physical quantities. Their

application will be shown in the section with examples.

2.3 Hanging nodes

Hermes2Dsupports hanging nodes of any level [33]. Usually, the hanging nodes bring

about a considerable increase of the number of the degrees of freedom (DOFs). The

code contains higher-order algorithms for respecting these nodes without any need of

an additional reﬁnement of the external parts neighboring with the reﬁned subdomain.

2.4 Types of elements

Agros2D generates meshes that may generally consist of triangular, quadrilateral and

curvilinear elements. While creation of common triangular and quadrilateral elements

is well known and will not be discussed here, we will show creation of the curvilinear

elements suitable for covering areas adjacent to curved boundaries and interfaces (this

technique is original and we do not know any commercial software that would use

something like that).

Agros2Ddiscretizes 2Ddomains on the base of software Triangle [30] that provides

a high-quality triangular mesh. The corresponding input data for modeling curvilinear

boundaries or interfaces in Triangle are given by a series of points lying on this line

(together with the markers carrying information that these points belong to such a

line) while the output is represented by a set of triangular elements (see Fig. 4). In the

Fig. 2 Part of a discretization mesh after h-adaptive (left) and p-adaptive (right) process: light lines before

adaptivity, dark lines after adaptivity, the darker colour of the element, the higher polynomial

Fig. 3 Part of a discretization

mesh after hp-adaptive process:

the darker colour of the element,

the higher polynomial, some

elements are, moreover, split

1 3

Numerical solution of coupled problems using code Agros2D S387

Fig. 4 Input data for SW Triangle (left) and output mesh (right)

Fig. 5 Projection of a newly generated node on the curve (left) and resultant s elements formed in Agros2D

(right)

second step Agros2D repeats analyzing the curved lines and when any of the newly

generated nodes approximating the curve (see Fig. 4, right part) does not lie on it, it

is automatically projected on the original arc, see Fig. 5. At the same time a special

procedure determines the corresponding angles of projection.

In the course of numerical processing of the task the curvilinear elements are

mapped back on normal triangles where all remaining operations (such as Gaussian

numerical integration) are carried out and only in the ﬁnal step (postprocessing) they

are mapped again to the curvilinear elements.

3 Main features of Agros2D

Agros2D (see Fig. 6) is a powerful code for numerical solutions of 2D coupled prob-

lems in technical disciplines. Its principal part is a user interface serving for com-

plete preprocessing and postprocessing of the tasks (it contains sophisticated tools for

building geometrical models and input of data, generators of meshes, tables of weak

forms for the partial differential equations and tools for evaluating results and drawing

graphs and maps). The processor is based on the library Hermes2Dcontaining the most

advanced numerical algorithms for monolithic and fully adaptive solution of systems

of generally nonlinear and nonstationary partial differential equations (PDEs) based on

the ﬁnite element method of higher order of accuracy. Both parts of the code are written

in C++. They are freely distributed under the GNU General Public License v2.1.

The development of the application Agros2Dwas started in 2009 at the Department

of Theory of Electrical Engineering at the University of West Bohemia in Pilsen.

It has been successfully used for research and teaching at several universities and

1 3

S388 P. Karban et al.

Fig. 6 Main window of Agros2D

scientiﬁc institutions. Moreover, it has been used by several companies for modeling

and development of various technical devices.

3.1 XML description of modules

The main ambition of Agros2D is to be universal tool for solution of various types of

partial differential equation. The core of the program is thus written generally, with no

dependence on properties of individual physical ﬁelds. All ﬁeld-related data are stored

in separate XML ﬁles. This system makes it simple to create new modules, since the

code does not need to be changed, only a new XML ﬁle has to be created.

XML ﬁles describing modules and couplings can be converted into C++ code.

Agros2D uses several tools for transforming. For reading XML ﬁles, library Xerces-

C++ [16] is used. After reading, the data are processed by our own lexical and syntactic

analyzer. The lexical analyzer creates the vector of tokens, which are, after basic

syntactic check, replaced using required grammar. All the necessary ﬁles are then

generated using ctemplate library [4]. The source ﬁles are prepared for usage as Qt

plugins. Therefore, it is possible to change modules and couplings and compile them

during run-time.

A XML describing physical ﬁeld consists of following parts. After the initial part

describing the ﬁeld properties and considered types of analyses, follows the deﬁni-

tion of volumetric weak forms (different for linear and nonlinear case and for planar

and antisymmetric coordinate system). In the next part, surface properties, especially

boundary condition types, are deﬁned. Information from those two parts are used for

creation of weak forms and discretization of the problem. The following parts are

used to generate the graphical user interface (GUI). Material quantities are described

(to be ﬁlled in by the user) and formulas for postprocessor quantities and surface and

volume integrals are given. Note that in the sample ﬁle shown in the appendix, most

1 3

Numerical solution of coupled problems using code Agros2D S389

of the quantities are omitted to save space. By creating such ﬁle, a new physical ﬁeld

together with GUI can be completely created with no changes in the code itself.

3.2 Physical ﬁelds

At the present moment, Agros2D is capable of solution of the following ﬁelds:

– electric currents,

– electrostatics,

– magnetic ﬁelds,

– heat transfer,

– structural mechanics

– radio frequency,

– acoustics,

– incompressible ﬂow,

– mathematics (Laplace, Poisson, Helmholtz, diffusion, convection-diffusion, wave

equation).

The above ﬁelds may be solved in different modes (steady-states, transients, harmonic

ﬁelds) where appropriate. Nonlinear material properties may also be respected during

the solution process.

3.3 Coupled problems

For the solution of complex problems, interaction of more physical ﬁelds has to be con-

sidered. There are two fundamentally different approaches towards this complicated

issue, referred to as weak and hard coupling.

– The weak coupling is simpler to implement, since individual ﬁelds are calculated

separately. In the situation, where terms comprising values of one ﬁeld are present

in the equation describing the other one, but not vice-versa (the case of one-way

coupling), this method is usually preferable. In the case of both-way coupling, the

use of the weak approach leads to the necessity of several repetitions of consecutive

solution of the individual ﬁelds, where the values of the second ﬁeld are taken

from the previous iteration. This is obviously rather time-consuming and also

the convergence is a big issue. For such problems, the following method is more

suitable.

– Using the hard coupling approach, where is no need for iterating, since only one

discrete system is created and then solved using linear or nonlinear solver. It is,

however, much more complicated to implement and therefore the majority of ﬁnite

element codes use some variation of the weak coupling.

This being a rather novel feature of our code, we have implemented and tested three

coupling possibilities up to now:

– electric currents and heat transfer,

– magnetic ﬁelds and heat transfer,

– heat transfer and structural mechanics.

1 3

S390 P. Karban et al.

More options should be available soon. More than two ﬁelds may be coupled for

complicatedproblems, suchas magnetic, heat andelasticity, as it is showninillustrative

example in Sect. 4.2.

As described in Sect. 3.1, all information related to the individual ﬁelds (equations,

boundary conditions, material parameters, postprocessor quantities, etc.) are separated

from the computational core and stored in XML modules. The same model is used for

couplings deﬁnition. For each pair of ﬁelds A and B, whose coupling is considered,

one separate XML module is created with speciﬁcation of coupling terms that are

to be added into the weak formulation for each combination of types of analyses of

A and B (steady state, transient or harmonic) and desired type of coupling (weak or

hard). Files are written in such a manner that no contents of ﬁeld modules has to be

duplicated. C++ source codes are generated from coupling modules in the same way

as for the ﬁeld modules, as it was described previously.

3.4 Time dependent problems

Alot of interest is usually paid to the spatial discretization and to the effort to minimize

its error with reasonable computational cost. It is equally important to try to minimize

the number of time steps, since the total computational time is proportional to it. The

basic implicit or explicit Euler method simply does not sufﬁce. The usual strategy of

solving transient problems is to discretize the equation in space, solve it and, hence,

obtain a system of ordinary differential equations in time, which can then be handled

separately using standard tools for solution of ordinary differential equations. This is

not an option in our code, since the mesh may be different in each time step due to

possible space adaptivity. We have to use the Rothe method instead, carrying out the

time discretization ﬁrst.

The continuous time-dependent problem can be written in the form

∂y

∂t

= F(y, t ) . (7)

To discretize the time derivative, we have implemented a variant of backward differ-

ential method (BDF)

n

i =0

α

i

y

k−i

= F(y

k

, t

k

) , (8)

where t

k

are time levels, y

k

= y(t

k

) corresponding solutions and coefﬁcients α

i

depend

on the lengths of previous steps and thus allow the time step to be changed (in the

case of time adaptivity, which will be discussed later). After the time discretization is

done using this formula, the space discretization can be performed in the same way as

it would be for a steady state problem. The only difference is the necessity to provide

values of solutions from n previous time steps, projected to the current mesh. This

is possible thanks to capabilities of the Hermes library. We have implemented the

method of orders n = 1, 2, 3.

1 3

Numerical solution of coupled problems using code Agros2D S391

Fig. 7 Basic arrangement of

transient problem

Fig. 8 Dependence of resulting temperature at a selected point of the domain on the number of time steps

Using higher order time discretization can bring signiﬁcant speed improvement

itself, but it can be further used to develop an adaptive time-step method. Solving the

problemusing two different orders, an estimate of the error can be obtained. It can then

be usedtodetermine the lengthof the next time step(enlarge or shorten) inorder tokeep

the error as close to the prescribed tolerance as possible and thus obtain solution with

desired accuracy using as fewtime steps as possible. Obviously, the question of choos-

ingthe right value of the tolerance andgenerallythe relationof the errors causedbyspa-

tial and time discretizations is very complicated and is beyond the scope of this article.

The advantages of adaptive selection of the time step length will be shown on an

illustrative example shown in Fig. 7.

Figure 8 depicts the dependence of the resultant temperature at a selected point

of the domain on the number of time steps (in the logarithmic scale) for ﬁxed and

adaptive step lengths. All methods converge to the same value, but adaptive methods

(marked by squares) much faster than those with a ﬁxed step (marked by discs).

3.5 Particle tracing

The movement of the particle obeys the equations for its velocity v and trajectory s in

the forms

m

dv

dt

= F,

ds

dt

= v, (9)

where F is the sum of all forces acting on the particle. The corresponding initial

conditions read

1 3

S392 P. Karban et al.

s(0) = s

0

, v(0) = v

0

, (10)

where s

0

is the entry position and v

0

is the entry velocity of the particle.

The following forces have to be considered.

– The force acting on the charged particle in electromagnetic ﬁeld is called Lorentz

force. This force is given by the relation

F

L

= Q (E +v ×B) , (11)

where Edenotes the local value of the electric ﬁeld and Bstands for the local value

of magnetic ﬂux density. Q denotes the charge of the particle and v its velocity.

– The gravitational force is given by the formula

F

g

= mg, (12)

where m denotes the mass of the particle and g is the gravitational acceleration.

– The aerodynamic resistance is given by the formula

F

a

= −v

1

2

ρcSv, (13)

c being the friction coefﬁcient (depending on geometry of the particle), ρ denotes

the density of ambient air, S is the characteristic surface of the particle and v stands

for the module of its velocity.

This set of two equations is strongly nonlinear due to the forces on the right-hand

side. For numerical solution of the trajectory of the particle we use the Runge–Kutta–

Fehlberg method. This method uses an O(h

4

) method together with an O(h

5

) method

that works with all the points of the O(h

4

) method, and, hence, it is often referred to

as an RKF45 method. Our code is fully adaptive and optimal time step is chosen.

3.6 Structure of Agros2D

The work-ﬂow of Agros2D, as for most of the commercial codes, can be divided into

three main phases. First the user has to specify the problem and create geometry. Than

the actual solution takes place. After the ﬁeld is resolved, various postprocessor tools

may be used.

3.6.1 Preprocessor

One of the main advantages of commercial codes over most of the academical projects,

which is of great importance for practitioners, is a presence of advanced preprocessor

tools. In Agros2D, we have implemented all features that are necessary for creation

of complex engineering problem (see Fig. 9). After selection of considered physical

ﬁelds and types of analyses, the user starts with geometry deﬁnition. It comprises of

creation of nodes, edges and areas. Curved edges can be used to create more realistic

1 3

Numerical solution of coupled problems using code Agros2D S393

Fig. 9 Window of preprocessor (geometry and physical properties of the furnace for silicon melting)

geometries. The mesh can be also imported from a ﬁle in the DXF format. Various

parameters can be supplied to specify mesh quality in individual areas or towards

edges or nodes to utilize a-priori knowledge of problem properties.

The second function of the preprocessor is to specify physical properties of indi-

vidual parts of volume and boundary by deﬁning material constants and boundary

conditions. Material properties, including nonlinear characteristics of materials, can

be loaded from the material library. Various types of boundary conditions are pre-

deﬁned for all ﬁelds, so the user only has to select the appropriate one and provide

necessary data related to the given problem.

3.6.2 Processor

After the geometry and physical properties are speciﬁed, the calculation can be started

by the user. After that, Agros2Dproceeds in several steps. First is the creation of mesh,

which is carried out by calling one of external mesh-creation tools according to users

preferences. In the present moment, our code uses either Triangle [30] or GMSH [23].

Various types of meshes (triangular, quadrilateral or combinations) may be used.

When the mesh is created, the core of the ﬁnite-element calculation takes place.

Weak forms are created according to physical ﬁelds and couplings, speciﬁed by the

user. They are then used for assembling matrices and right hand side vectors during

the calculation. The ﬂow of the calculation depends on various settings. Matrices and

vectors have to be assembled for each step of nonlinear solver, for each adaptive or

transient step. For single ﬁeld analysis or hard coupling of more ﬁelds, one matrix is

used, while for weak coupling, one matrix and vector are used for each ﬁeld.

During the process, solution of system of linear equations is needed (for the most

simple linear problem without adaptivity only once, but typically multiple times). It

1 3

S394 P. Karban et al.

Fig. 10 Window of postprocessor (distribution of temperature after 45 min)

is carried out by supplying assembled matrix and vector to the external linear solver.

We usually use the well known direct solver UMFPACK [18], but MUMPS [10] and

SuperLU [19] can be also called, depending on users preferences.

3.6.3 Postprocessor

A very important part of software Agros2D is an advanced postprocessor. In technical

practice, it is necessary to work with a variety of derived variables. Agros2Dallows dis-

playing scalar variables in the form of color map or contour lines, for the vector quan-

tities it is possible to display their modules, components or vector ﬁeld (see Fig. 10).

There are implemented integrals of surface and volume calculations. Other features

include determination of the point values, cross-section graphs and particle tracing.

Agros2Ditself contains only general support for postprocessing. The relations for cal-

culation of the local and the integral quantities are part of each speciﬁc module. There-

fore, it is easy to add postprocessor quantities by modifying the relevant XML ﬁle.

3.7 Scripting language

Agros2D also contains an engine for scripting language Python [13]. This engine

extends abilities of preprocessing, processing and also postprocessing. It is possible

to use Python expressions and deﬁned variables for entering model data (geometry,

material and boundary parameters, etc.) in GUI. This functionality is advantageous

for work with complex models. But the main advantage of this engine is a full control

of model by using object-oriented wrappers available as special Python module of

Agros2D.

1 3

Numerical solution of coupled problems using code Agros2D S395

Fig. 11 Main window of PythonLab

Scripting in Agros2D allows making advanced analysis. For example, it is possible

to use scripts for parametric analysis, result analysis and their visualisation or couple

solved model with other models using computed results. Scripting also allows extend-

ing the basic functionality of Agros2D. Now, under development there is a Python

module for optimization, which allows using special algorithms for optimizing the

modeled problem.

It is possible to use the editor PythonLab (see Fig. 11) for editing scripts. PythonLab

is developed mainly for Agros2D and allows using:

– code completion,

– syntax highlighting,

– code bugs and quality checking with PyLint [12] and PyFlakes [11] and

– converter from model to script.

Python contains many modules that are possible to be used in Agros2D. It is one

of the main advantages of using Python. For example, SciPy [14] adds a support for

scientiﬁc computing, matplotlib [9] adds plotting capabilities.

4 Illustrative examples

The power of code Agros2D is documented by three following examples from the

domain of electrical engineering:

– induction heating of rotating nonmagnetic billets in static magnetic ﬁeld generated

by permanent magnets,

– accurate setting of position based on thermoelastic principle,

– separation of plastic particles based on triboelectric effect.

1 3

S396 P. Karban et al.

The purpose of this demonstration is not only to show the unique capabilities of

the Hermes library (which has been already done in many papers, see, e.g., [21, 32–

34]), but also to show user-friendliness of the Agros2D software. The three following

examples have been selected in such a way to facilitate various aspects (adaptivity,

coupling, time-dependence, nonlinearities, etc.). Even when all such situations might

be handled by various existing codes, it would sometimes require a lot of work just

to describe the calculation (using many calls to the library or writing large script). In

Agros2D, everything can be done from graphical user interface, which is very fast,

efﬁcient and less prone to errors.

Agros2D, however, is not just a GUI to the Hermes library. It should be viewed

as a higher level of the code, which utilizes low-level calls to the library to construct

everything necessary for the solution of the given problem. It is designed to help

engineers to select from various range of ﬁelds with predeﬁned boundary conditions

types and materials, deﬁne their mutual interactions and ﬁnally to view values of

different quantities related to the ﬁeld or to calculate surface or volume integrals.

Such things are usually not priorities of academical codes developers, which makes

them extremely difﬁcult to use for the practitioners. The software is, however, written

in such a way, that it allows large control over the calculation. Therefore a more

advanced user can chose from various settings.

In the following examples, we decided not to show screen-shots from the calcu-

lations. The GUI itself is quite simple to use and this paper is not intended to be a

manual. The purpose is to show how complicated situations can be solved thanks to

the Agros2D layer over the Hermes with no need to write new single-purpose codes

calling Hermes routines, which might be very time consuming.

4.1 Induction heating of nonmagnetic cylindrical billets rotating in a system of static

permanent magnets

Induction heating of cylindrical billets of various nonmagnetic metals (mostly alu-

minum) is a widely spread technological process often used for their softening before

hot forming [17]. This process is usually realized using the two following ways:

– heating of an unmoving billet in a system of static, harmonic currents carrying

inductors,

– heating of a rotating billet in static magnetic ﬁeld generated by static inductors.

Heating of billets placed inside harmonic current-carrying inductors belongs to the

classical ways of heat treatment. This technology has been employed since the thirties

of the twentieth century. But its effectiveness is rather low due to high Joule losses in

the inverter and inductor themselves (that must be transferred away by an appropriate

cooling medium). The efﬁciency of the process typically does not exceed 30–40 %.

Heating of a rotating billet in static magnetic ﬁeld produced by direct current-

carrying inductor was proposed about 10 years ago and modeled by several groups of

authors, such as [22, 27]. The most important of them is generation of a sufﬁciently

high magnetic ﬁeld and corresponding eddy currents in the billet. As its revolutions

are rather limited (in case of massive billets with diameters over 0.1 m their value

does not exceed 750 rpm), the only possible solution is using very high ﬁeld currents,

1 3

Numerical solution of coupled problems using code Agros2D S397

Fig. 12 Basic arrangement (left) and experimental device (right)

which usually requires superconducting devices with all necessary infrastructure. In

this case, the Joule losses (due to low resistance of the ﬁeld windings) are not crucial,

but certain amount of energy is consumed by the cooling devices and rotation of the

billet. The overall efﬁciency of the process is reported to be about 65–80 %.

In our case, the static magnetic ﬁeld is generated by appropriately arranged high-

parameter permanent magnets. A typical disposition is depicted in Fig. 12.

This version of heating is characterized by the absence of the ﬁeld coils (and the

corresponding Joule losses), thus the only losses in the system are the mechanical

losses. A physical model built in our laboratory is depicted in Fig. 12 right.

4.1.1 Mathematical model

The continuous mathematical model of heating consists of two nonlinear partial dif-

ferential equations providing the distribution of static magnetic ﬁeld and evolutionary

temperature ﬁeld in the system. The distribution of magnetic ﬁeld is described in terms

of magnetic vector potential A by the equation

curl

1

µ

curl A −H

c

−γ (v ×curl A) = 0 , (14)

where µ stands for the magnetic permeability, γ is the electrical conductivity, v is

the local velocity of movement at a point, and H

c

is the coercive force. A sufﬁciently

distant artiﬁcial boundary is characterized by the Dirichlet condition A = 0.

The temperature ﬁeld in the system obeys the equation

divλ grad T −ρc

dT

dt

= −p

J

, (15)

where λ is the thermal conductivity, ρ is the speciﬁc mass, and c denotes the speciﬁc

heat at a constant pressure. Finally, the symbol p

J

denotes the time average internal

sources of heat represented by the volumetric Joule losses. These are given by the

formula

1 3

S398 P. Karban et al.

p

J

=

J

eddy

2

γ

, where J

eddy

= γ (v ×curl A) . (16)

This equation is supplemented with the boundary condition respecting convection

−λ

∂T

∂n

= α (T − T

ext

) ,

where T

ext

is the temperature of ambient air. As the temperature of the magnetic circuit

is low (it does not exceed 50

◦

C), the inﬂuence of radiation was neglected at this stage

of the research.

4.1.2 Example

The magnetic circuit of the experimental stand is made of standard carbon steel 12,040

whose magnetization characteristic is depicted in Fig. 13 left. The heated billet ﬁxed

by a speciﬁc mechanism is driven by a 3 kW induction motor. The dependence of

physical parameters of aluminum on temperature are depicted in Figs. 13 and 14.

The radius of the billet is 60 mm. The nominal speed of the motor is 1, 500 rpm.

The permanent magnets are of type VMM10 and exhibit the remanent magnetic ﬂux

density B

r

= 1.28T and relative permeability in the second quadrant µ

r

= 1.11.

Fig. 13 Magnetization characteristic of steel 12,040 and dependence of thermal conductivity of aluminum

on temperature

Fig. 14 Dependence of mass density (left) and speciﬁc heat (right) of aluminum on temperature

1 3

Numerical solution of coupled problems using code Agros2D S399

Fig. 15 Distribution of magnetic ﬂux density B

Fig. 16 Distribution of permeability µ

r

and temperature T at time t = 180 s

4.1.3 Results

Figure 15 shows the distribution of magnetic ﬂux density in the systemand Fig. 16 left

the corresponding distribution of magnetic permeability in the part of the magnetic

circuit. Finally, Fig. 16 right depicts the distribution of temperature in the system after

180 s of heating.

4.2 Accurate setting of position based on thermoelastic principle

Thermoelastic deformations of metal bodies produced by induction heating are

exploited in numerous industrial technologies (hot pressing, production of high forces

etc. [20, 31]). But thermoelasticity may also be advantageous for producing small,

but well controllable shifts. A schematic arrangement of the corresponding device is

depicted in Fig. 17. A dilatation element made of appropriate metal is inserted into

a current-carrying coil in a ﬁxing ferromagnetic frame. The whole system is placed

in the insulating shell. The device is clamped by its bottom part (insulating front) in

1 3

S400 P. Karban et al.

Fig. 17 Basic arrangement of the device

the basement (ideally stiff wall). The time-variable magnetic ﬁeld generated by the

ﬁeld coil induces in the dilatation element eddy currents that produce its heating and

consequent geometrical changes of the thermoelastic origin.

4.2.1 Mathematical model

Distribution of electromagnetic ﬁeld in the systemin the period of heating is described

by the equation for magnetic vector potential A

curl

1

µ

curlA +γ ·

∂A

∂t

= J

ext

, (17)

where µ denotes the magnetic permeability, γ is the electric conductivity and J

ext

stands for the vector of external harmonic current density in the inductor. Parameter

γ is generally a function of the temperature T and µ is a function of temperature T

and magnetic ﬂux density B = curlA.

But solution to equation 17 is practically unfeasible. The reason consists in the

deep disproportion between the frequency f (10 or 100 Hz) of the ﬁeld current and

time of heating (tens of seconds or minutes). That is why the model was somewhat

simpliﬁed using the assumption that the magnetic ﬁeld is harmonic. In such a case it

can be described by the Helmholtz equation for the phasor A of the magnetic vector

potential A

curl curl A +j · ωγ µA = µJ

ext

, (18)

where ωis the angular frequency, and J

ext

is the phasor of the external harmonic current

density in the ﬁeld coil. The conditions along the axis of the device and artiﬁcial

boundary placed at a sufﬁcient distance from the system are of the Dirichlet type

A = 0.

The temperature ﬁeld in the system is described by the heat transfer equation

divλ(T) grad T −ρ(T) c(T) ·

∂T

∂t

= −p

J

, (19)

where λ(T) is the thermal conductivity, ρ(T) denotes the mass density and symbol

c(T) stands for the speciﬁc heat (all of these parameters are generally temperature-

dependent functions). Finally, p

J

denotes the time average volume Joule losses due to

eddy currents in electrically conductive parts that are given by the formula

1 3

Numerical solution of coupled problems using code Agros2D S401

p

J

=

J

eddy

2

γ

, J

eddy

= −j · ωγ A. (20)

The boundary conditions take into account only convection

−λ

∂T

∂n

= α (T − T

ext

) ,

where T

ext

is external temperature. Since the dilatation element with the coil are

covered by the insulation (that is characterized by a poor thermal conductivity), we

can, without any signiﬁcant error, neglect the inﬂuence of radiation.

The solution of the thermoelastic problem starts from the vector Lamé equation

that reads

(λ +µ) grad div u +µu −(3λ +2µ) α

T

grad T = −f , (21)

where λ and µ are coefﬁcients associated with material parameters by relations

λ =

νE

(1 +ν)(1 −2ν)

, µ =

E

2(1 +ν)

.

Here E denotes the modulus of elasticity and ν the Poisson coefﬁcient of the transverse

contraction, α

T

is the coefﬁcient of the linear thermal dilatability of material and f the

vector of the internal volume forces. Finally u = (u

r

, u

ϕ

, u

z

) represents the resultant

displacement vector.

4.2.2 Example

The geometry of the investigated device follows from Fig. 17. The material of the

dilatation element is zinc with electrical conductivity γ = 16 MS/m, Young modulus

E = 130 GPa, Poisson number ν = 0.331, thermal expansion coefﬁcient α

T

=

27 · 10

−6

K

−1

. Finally, its thermal conductivity λ(T), mass density ρ(T) and speciﬁc

heat c(T) are temperature-dependent functions depicted in Figs. 18 and 19. The ﬁeld

coil is wound by a copper conductor (its thermal conductivity λ = 385 Wm

−1

K

−1

,

mass density ρ = 8, 700 kg m

−3

and speciﬁc heat c = 380 J kg

−1

K

−1

) and carries

harmonic current of density J

ext

= 10 MAm

−2

and frequency f = 500 Hz. Thermal

insulation is made of Teﬂon with thermal conductivity λ = 0.23 Wm

−1

K

−1

, mass

density ρ = 2, 200 kg m

−3

and speciﬁc heat c = 1, 000 J kg

−1

K

−1

.

Figure 20 shows the three independent meshes (at the initial stage) for computation

of magnetic ﬁeld, temperature ﬁeld and ﬁeld of thermoelastic displacements.

4.2.3 Results

Figure 21 shows (from left to right) the distribution of magnetic ﬁeld, temperature

ﬁeld and ﬁeld of thermoelastic displacements after 30 s of heating.

1 3

S402 P. Karban et al.

Fig. 18 Dependence of thermal conductivity (left) and mass density (right) of zinc on temperature

Fig. 19 Dependence of speciﬁc

heat of zinc on temperature

Fig. 20 Used meshes (from left to right) for computation of magnetic ﬁeld, heat transfer and thermoelas-

ticity (multimesh technology)

1 3

Numerical solution of coupled problems using code Agros2D S403

Fig. 21 Solution at time t = 30 s (magnetic ﬁeld, heat transfer and thermoelasticity)

Fig. 22 Time dependence of average temperature of the dilatation element and axial displacement of the

top in the dilatation element

Figure 22 left shows the time evolution of the avarage temperature of the dilatation

element and Fig. 22 right depicts an analogous evolution of the displacement of the

top end of the dilatation element.

Due toveryefﬁcient thermal insulationof the device, the process of heatingis almost

adiabatic, so that both dependencies are practically linear within the investigated range

of temperatures.

4.3 Device for electrostatic separation of plastic particles

Nowadays, an intensive research is conducted worldwide, aimed at the possibilities of

recycling plastic materials, because in a lot of applications they may well replace the

new ones. The necessary prerequisite of this reprocessing is a high-quality separation

of particular kinds of plastics that are (at the ﬁrst step of the process) grinded into

small sphere-shaped particles. One of the advanced techniques of separation of these

1 3

S404 P. Karban et al.

Fig. 23 Basic arrangement and dimensions of a typical separator

particles is based on the triboelectric effect [28, 29, 37]. It is known, that when electri-

cally non-conducting particles of two different levels come into contact with electric

charge, one of them becomes more positive (or negative) with respect to another one.

And when such charged particles get into electric ﬁeld, their movement is then mainly

affected by the charge that they carry.

More accurately, the trajectories of the charged particles moving in electric ﬁeld

are inﬂuenced by the Coulomb force exerted on them by this ﬁeld, gravity, and drag

aerodynamic forces. And these trajectories predetermine their impact points, in other

words, the places where they fall down. It is clear fromFig. 23 left showing the scheme

of a typical separator of this kind.

The separator consists of two electrodes, one of them being grounded. The voltage

of the other electrode is used to be on the order of tens kV. The electrodes may

be covered by Teﬂon or another insulating material that prevents recharging of the

particles in case of the direct impact with them. The mixture of charged particles is

delivered by the feeder. At the bottom of the device there are several recycle bins used

for accumulating of particular levels of plastics. One of the principal demands is to

tune the shape of the electrodes and widths of the bins so that the particles of different

levels should fall down exactly to the corresponding bins.

4.3.1 Mathematical model

Electric ﬁeld in the working space of the separator is described by the equation for the

electric potential ϕ

div ε grad ϕ = 0 , (22)

where ε is the dielectric permittivity. The boundary conditions are given by the known

values of the electric potential on the electrodes and the Neumann condition along the

artiﬁcial boundary placed at a sufﬁciently distance from the device.

1 3

Numerical solution of coupled problems using code Agros2D S405

The movement of the particle obeys the equations for its velocity v and trajectory

s in the forms

m

dv

dt

= F

e

+F

a

+F

g

,

ds

dt

= v , (23)

where F

e

is the Coulomb force acting on the particle. This force is given by the relation

F

e

= QE = −Q · grad ϕ , (24)

where E denotes the local value of the electric ﬁeld strength. Symbol F

a

represents

the aerodynamic resistance given by (13) and gravity force F

g

is described by (12).

4.3.2 Example

Consider the basic arrangement depicted in Fig. 23 right. The particles of plastics of

charge Q = ±0.5 µC, mass density ρ = 1, 370 kg · m

−3

, radius R = 2 mm and

initial velocity v

0

= 0 get to the space between two electrodes, one of them being

grounded. There they are deﬂected according to their charge and fall down into the

recycle bins (presently, we neglect the Coulomb forces acting among the particles, so

that their movement is affected only by the external electric ﬁeld). The task is to ﬁnd

their trajectories and evaluate the effectiveness of separation. The voltage between the

electrodes is U = 45 kV.

4.3.3 Results

Table 1 shows the convergence of results for different adaptive techniques used for the

numerical solution. The lowercase letter p denotes the startingorder of the polynomials

and ε(x) the relative error of computation. Figure 24 left shows initial mesh before

adaptive process and Figs. 24 right and 25 depict the discretization meshes after the

corresponding adaptive processes.

Finally, Fig. 26 shows typical trajectories of the PVC and PET particles in the

separator.

5 Conclusions and outlooks to the future

In our paper, we have presented the current state of our open-source project Agros2D. It

combines advanced numerical algorithms for solution of partial differential equations

Table 1 Convergence for h, p

and hp adaptivity techniques

Start ε(x) DOFs (-) Steps (-) Time (s)

h-adaptivity p = 2 0.139 28086 9 72.811

p-adaptivity p = 1 0.177 13939 11 50.473

hp-adaptivity p = 1 0.197 12154 11 50.222

1 3

S406 P. Karban et al.

Fig. 24 Initial mesh (left), h-adaptivity, p = 2 (right)

Fig. 25 p-adaptivity, p = 1 (left), hp-adaptivity, p = 1 (right)

with modern and efﬁcient graphical user interface. This combination makes it possible

for the practitioners to beneﬁt from fast and reliable algorithms with no need to study

details of numerical mathematics. The advancedGUI is alsouseful for the development

of algorithms itself, since it is much simpler to maintain, test and modify such program

than it is for traditional academical one-purpose codes.

The work is, of course, far frombeing ﬁnished. Even though Agros2D is capable of

solving problems from various ﬁelds, few additional modules could be added. Thanks

to a complete separation of computational logic from the deﬁnition of individual

ﬁelds, addition of new modules is quiet simple, since the code itself does not need

to be changed. The next important issue, that has been addressed recently, is making

1 3

Numerical solution of coupled problems using code Agros2D S407

Fig. 26 Trajectories of selected particles (PVC and PET)

the code more efﬁcient. Parallelization of the code is important toll in achieving this.

At the present moment, we use it onthe OpenMPlevel only. For anefﬁcient deployment

on cluster computers, usage of MPI is necessary. It is, however, much more demanding

and requires substantional refactoring of the code.

Acknowledgements This work was supported by the European Regional Development Fund and Ministry

of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic (Project No. CZ.1.05/2.1.00/03.0094: Regional

Innovation Centre for Electrical Engineering - RICE) and Grant project GACR P102/11/0498.

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