A Block Preconditioner for an Exact Penalty Formulation for Stationary MHD

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The magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) equations are used to model the flow of electrically conducting fluids in such applications as liquid metals and plasmas. This system of non-self adjoint, nonlinear PDEs couples the Navier-Stokes equations for fluids and Maxwell's equations for electromagnetics. There has been recent interest in fully coupled solvers for the MHD system because they allow for fast steady-state solutions that do not require pseudo-time stepping. When the fully coupled system is discretized, the strong coupling can make the resulting algebraic systems difficult to solve, requiring effective preconditioning of iterative methods for efficiency. In this work, we consider a finite element discretization of an exact penalty formulation for the stationary MHD equations. This formulation has the benefit of implicitly enforcing the divergence free condition on the magnetic field without requiring a Lagrange multiplier. We consider extending block preconditioning techniques developed for the Navier-Stokes equations to the full MHD system. We analyze operators arising in block decompositions from a continuous perspective and apply arguments based on the existence of approximate commutators to develop new preconditioners that account for the physical coupling. This results in a family of parameterized block preconditioners for both Picard and Newton linearizations.

We develop an automated method for choosing the relevant parameters and demonstrate the robustness of these preconditioners for a range of the physical non-dimensional parameters and with respect to mesh refinement.