An improved penalty immersed boundary (pIB) method has been proposed for simulation of fluid-flexible body interaction problems. In the proposed method, the fluid motion is defined on the Eulerian domain, while the solid motion is described by the Lagrangian variables. To account for the interaction, the flexible body is assumed to be composed of two parts: massive material points and massless material points, which are assumed to be linked closely by a stiff spring with damping. The massive material points are subjected to the elastic force of solid deformation but do not interact with the fluid directly, while the massless material points interact with the fluid by moving with the local fluid velocity. The flow solver and the solid solver are coupled in this framework and are developed separately by different methods. The fractional step method is adopted to solve the incompressible fluid motion on a staggered Cartesian grid, while the finite element method is developed to simulate the solid motion using an unstructured triangular mesh. The interaction force is just the restoring force of the stiff spring with damping, and is spread from the Lagrangian coordinates to the Eulerian grids by a smoothed approximation of the Dirac delta function. In the numerical simulations, three-dimensional simulations of fluid-flexible body interaction are carried out, including deformation of a spherical capsule in a linear shear flow. A comparison between the numerical results and the theoretical solutions is presented.

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