In the present study, the performance of the moment method, in terms of accuracy and computational efficiency, was evaluated at both the macro- and microscopic levels. Three different types of non-equilibrium gas flows, including the force-driven Poiseuille flow, lid-driven and thermally induced cavity flows, were simulated in the slip and transition regimes. Choosing the flow fields obtained from the Boltzmann model equation as the benchmark, the accuracy and validation of Navier–Stokes–Fourier (NSF), regularized 13 (R13) and regularized 26 (R26) equations were explored at the macroscopic level. Meanwhile, we reconstructed the velocity distribution functions (VDFs) using the Hermite polynomials with different-order of molecular velocity moments, and compared them with the Boltzmann solutions at the microscopic level. Moreover, we developed a kinetic criterion to indirectly assess the errors of the reconstructed VDFs. The results have shown that the R13 and R26 moment methods can be faithfully used for non-equilibrium rarefied gas flows in the slip and transition regimes. However, as indicated from the thermally induced case, all of the reconstructed VDFs are still very close to the equilibrium state, and none of them can reproduce the accurate VDF profile when the Knudsen number is above 0.5.
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