# Stability analysis of lattice boltzmann methods

## Abstract

The lattice Boltzmann equation describes the evolution of the velocity distribution function on a lattice in a manner that macroscopic fluid dynamical behavior is recovered. Although the equation is a derivative of lattice gas automata, it may be interpreted as a Lagrangian finite-difference method for the numerical simulation of the discrete-velocity Boltzmann equation that makes use of a BGK collision operator. As a result, it is not surprising that numerical instability of lattice Boltzmann methods have been frequently encountered by researchers. We present an analysis of the stability of perturbations of the particle populations linearized about equilibrium values corresponding to a constant-density uniform mean flow. The linear stability depends on the following parameters: the distribution of the mass at a site between the different discrete speeds, the BGK relaxation time, the mean velocity, and the wave-number of the perturbations. This parameter space is too large to compute the complete stability characteristics. We report some stability results for a subset of the parameter space for a 7-velocity hexagonal lattice, a 9-velocity square lattice, and a 15-velocity cubic lattice. Results common to all three lattices are (1) the BGK relaxation time τ must be greater than 1/2 corresponding to positive shear viscosity, (2) there exists a maximum stable mean velocity for fixed values of the other parameters, and (3) as τ is increased from 1/2 the maximum stable velocity increases monotonically until some fixed velocity is reached which does not change for larger τ. © 1996 Academic Press, Inc.