Mathematical Analysis of Some Partial Differential Equations with Applications

Kewang Chen, University of Vermont


In the first part of this dissertation, we produce and study a generalized mathematical model of solid combustion. Our generalized model encompasses two special cases from the literature: a case of negligible heat diffusion in the product, for example, when the burnt product is a foam-like substance; and another case in which diffusivities in the reactant and product are assumed equal. In addition to that, our model pinpoints the dynamics in a range of settings, in which the diffusivity ratio between the burned and unburned materials varies between 0 and 1. The dynamics of temperature distribution and interfacial front propagation in this generalized solid combustion model are studied through both asymptotic and numerical analyses. For asymptotic analysis, we first analyze the linear instability of a basic solution to the generalized model. We then focus on the weakly nonlinear case where a small perturbation of a neutrally stable parameter is taken so that the linearized problem is marginally unstable. Multiple scale expansion method is used to obtain an asymptotic solution for large time by modulating the most linearly unstable mode. On the other hand, we integrate numerically the exact problem by the Crank-Nicolson method. Since the numerical solutions are very sensitive to the derivative interfacial jump condition, we integrate the partial differential equation to obtain an integral-differential equation as an alternative condition. The result system of nonlinear algebraic equations is then solved by the Newton’s method, taking advantage of the sparse structure of the Jacobian matrix. By a comparison of our asymptotic and numerical solutions, we show that our asymptotic solution captures the marginally unstable behaviors of the solution for a range of model parameters. Using the numerical solutions, we also delineate the role of the diffusivity ratio between the burned and unburned materials. We find that for a representative set of this parameter values, the solution is stabilized by increasing the temperature ratio between the temperature of the fresh mixture and the adiabatic temperature of the combustion products. This trend is quite linear when a parameter related to the activation energy is close to the stability threshold. Farther from this threshold, the behavior is more nonlinear as expected. Finally, for small values of the temperature ratio, we find that the solution is stabilized by increasing the diffusivity ratio. This stabilizing effect does not persist as the temperature ratio increases. Competing effects produce a “cross-over” phenomenon when the temperature ratio increases beyond about 0.2.

In the second part, we study the existence and decay rate of a transmission problem for the plate vibration equation with a memory condition on one part of the boundary. From the physical point of view, the memory effect described by our integral boundary condition can be caused by the interaction of our domain with another viscoelastic element on one part of the boundary. In fact, the three different boundary conditions in our problem formulation imply that our domain is composed of two different materials with one condition imposed on the interface and two other conditions on the inner and outer boundaries, respectively. These transmission problems are interesting not only from the point of view of PDE general theory, but also due to their application in mechanics. For our mathematical analysis, we first prove the global existence of weak solution by using Faedo-Galerkin’s method and compactness arguments. Then, without imposing zero initial conditions on one part of the boundary, two explicit decay rate results are established under two different assumptions of the resolvent kernels. Both of these decay results allow a wider class of relaxation functions and initial data, and thus generalize some previous results existing in the literature.