Central Difference Scheme
From ThermalFluidsPedia
Computational methodologies for forced convection 
Integrating the governing equation over the control volume P (shaded area in the figure to the right), one obtains

The righthand side of eq. (1) can be obtained by assuming the distribution of between any two neighboring grid points is piecewise linear, i.e.,
where Γ_{e} and Γ_{w} are the diffusivities at the faces of the control volume. To ensure that the flux of across the faces of the control volume is continuous, the harmonic mean diffusivity at the faces should be used. To evaluate the left hand side of eq. (1), it is necessary to know the values of at the faces of the control volume. If the piecewise linear profile of is chosen, it follows that
Therefore, eq. (1) becomes

Defining the mass flux and diffusive conductance

eq. (2) can be rearranged as

where



This scheme is termed the central difference scheme because the values of at the faces of the control volume are taken as the averaged value between two grid points. The continuity equation requires that F_{e} = F_{w} and therefore, eq. (7) reduces to
a_{P} = a_{W} + a_{E}
To evaluate the performance of the central difference scheme, let us consider the case of a uniform grid, i.e., (δx)_{e} = (δx)_{w} = δx, for which case eq. (2) can be rearranged as

where

is the Peclet number using grid size as the characteristic length, which is referred to as the grid Peclet number. The grid Pe is a ratio of the strength of convection over diffusion. To ensure stability of the discretization scheme, the value of should always fall between and , which requires that the coefficients, and , are positive, i.e.,

This is the criterion for stability of the central difference scheme. It can be demonstrated that the central difference becomes unstable if eq. (10) is violated. The fact that the central difference scheme is stable under small grid Peclet number indicates that the central difference scheme is accurate only if the convection is not very significant.