Richards, John L. (2012-07). Transient Supersonic Methane-Air Flames. Master's Thesis. Thesis uri icon


  • The purpose of this study was to investigate the thermochemical properties of a transient supersonic flame. Creation of the transient flame was controlled by pulsing air in 200 millisecond intervals into a combustor filled with flowing methane. The combustor was designed following well-known principles of jet engine combustors. A flame holder and spark plug combination was used to encourage turbulent mixing and ignition of reactant gases, and to anchor the transient flame. Combustion created a high temperature and pressure environment which propelled a flame through a choked de Laval nozzle. The nozzle accelerated the products of combustion to a Mach number of 1.6, creating an underexpanded transient flame which burned for approximately 25 milliseconds. Qualitative information of the flame was gathered by two optical systems. An intensified charge-coupled device (ICCD) was constructed from constitutive components to amplify and capture the chemiluminescence generated by the transient flame, as well as the spatial structure of the flame at specific phases. To gather temporal data of a single transient event as it unfolded, a z-type schlieren optical system was constructed for use with a high speed camera. The system resolves the data in 1 millisecond increments, sufficient for capturing the transient phenomenon. The transient system was modeled computationally in Cantera using the GRI-3.0 reaction mechanism. Experimental conditions were simulated within the zero- dimensional computation by explicit control of the reacting gas mass flow rates within the system. Results from the computational model were used to describe the ignition process. The major limitation of the zero-dimensional reactor model is homogeneity and lack of spatial mixing. In this work a Lagrangian tracking model was used to describe the flame behavior and properties as it travels within the zero-dimensional reactor towards the nozzle. Following this, the flow expansion through the de Laval nozzle was calculated using one-dimensional isentropic relations. The computed reactor model data was then contrasted to experimental results from the ICCD and high speed schlieren images to fully describe the events in the transient supersonic flame.

publication date

  • July 2012