Lattice Boltzmann (LB) method models have been demonstrated to provide an accurate representation of the flow characteristics in rarefied flows. Conditions in such flows are characterized by the Knudsen number (Kn), defined as the ratio between the gas molecular Mean Free Path ( MFP, λ) and the device characteristic length (L). As the Knudsen number increases, the behavior of the flow near the walls is increasingly dominated by interactions between the gas molecules and the solid surface. Due to this, linear constitutive relations for shear stress and heat flux, which are assumed in the Navier-Stokes-Fourier (NSF) system of equations, are not valid within the Knudsen Layer (KL). Fig. 1 illustrates the characteristics of the velocity field within the Knudsen layer in a shear-driven flow. It is easily observed that although the NSF equations with slip flow boundary conditions (represented by dashed line) can predict the velocity profile in the bulk flow region, they fail to capture the flow characteristics inside the Knudsen layer. Slip flow boundary conditions have also been derived using the integral transform technique [1].

Various methods have been explored to extend the applicability of LB models to higher Knudsen number flows, including using higher order velocity sets, and using wall-distance functions to capture the effect of the walls on the mean free path by incorporating such functions on the determination of the local relaxation parameters.

In this study, a high order velocity model which contains a two-dimensional, thirteen velocity direction set (e.g., D2Q13), as shown in Fig. 2, is used as the basis of the current LB model. The LB model consists of two independent distribution functions to simulate the density and temperature fields, while the Diffuse Scattering Boundary Condition (DSBC) method is used to simulate the fluid interaction with the walls. To further improve the characterization of transition flow conditions expected in nano-scale heat transfer, we explored the implementation of two wall-distance functions, derived recently based on an integrated form of a probability distribution function, to the high-order LB model. These functions are used to determine the effective mean free path values throughout the height of the micro/nano-channel, and the resulting effect is first normalized and then used to determine local relaxation times for both momentum and energy using a relationship based on the local Knudsen number. The two wall-distance functions are based on integral forms of 1) the classical probability distribution function, ψ(r) = λ0−1e−r/λ0, derived by Arlemark et al [2], in which λ0represents the reference gas mean free path, and 2) a Power-Law probability distribution function, derived by Dongari et al [3]. Thus, the probability that a molecule travels a distance between r and r+dr between two successive collisions is equal to ψ(r)dr. The general form of the integral of the two functions used can be described by ψ(r) = C − f(r), where f(r) represents the base function (exponential or Power Law), and C is set to 1 so that the probability that a molecule will travel a distance r+dr without a collision ranges from zero to 1.

The performance of the present LB model coupled with the implementation of the two wall-distance functions is tested using two classical flow cases. The first case considered is that of isothermal, shear-driven Couette flow between two parallel, horizontal plates separated by a distance H, moving in opposite directions at a speed of U0. Fig. 3 shows the normalized velocity profiles across the micro-channel height for various Knudsen numbers in the transition flow regime based on our LB models as compared to data based on the Linearized Boltzmann equation [4]. The results show that our two LB models provide results that are in excellent agreement with the reference data up to the high end of the transition flow regime, with Knudsen numbers greater than 1.

The second case is rarefied Fourier flow within horizontal, parallel plates, with the plates being stationary and set to a constant temperature (TTop > TBottom), and the Prandtl number is set to 0.67 to match the reference data based on the Direct Simulation Monte Carlo (DSMC) method [5]. Fig. 4 shows the normalized temperature profiles across the microchannel height for various Knudsen numbers in the slip/transition How regime. For the entire Knudsen number range studied, our two LB models provide temperature profiles that are in excellent agreement with the non-linear profile seen in the reference data.

The results obtained show that the effective MFP relationship based on the exponential function improves the results obtained with the high order LB model for both shear-driven and Fourier flows up to Kn∼1. The results also show that the effective MFP relationship based on the Power Law distribution function greatly enhances the results obtained with the high order LB model for the two cases addressed, up to Kn∼3. In conclusion, the resulting LB models represent an effective tool in modeling non-equilibrium gas flows expected within micro/nano-scale devices.

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