Published in Advances in Engineering Software Vol. 9 (2), pp. 66-73, 1987
This paper is devoted to the numerical solution of phase-change problems in two dimensions. The technique of finite elements is employed. The discretization is carried out using linear isoparametric elements and special attention is given to the accurate integration of functions presenting discontinuities at arbitrarily curved interfaces. This type of function arises in a natural way when dealing with phase-change problems because the enthalpy attains a discontinuity at the phase change temperature. To integrate the discontinuous functions in the phase-changing elements a second mapping is performed from the master element onto a new one for which the interface iis a straight line. The integrals are calculated using the Gaussian technique applied to each part of the divided element, which may be triangular or quadrilateral. The discontinuous integration technique improves the behaviour of the numerical method avoiding any possible loss of latent heat due to an inaccurate evaluation of the residual vector. Some important aspects of the solution of the nonlinear system of equations are discussed and several numerical examples are presented together with the details of the computational implementation of the algorithm.