An experimental and mechanistic study on the laminar flame speed, Markstein length and flame chemistry of the butanol isomers

Fujia Wu, Chung K. Law

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106 Scopus citations


Laminar flame speeds and Markstein lengths for n-butanol, s-butanol, i-butanol and t-butanol at pressures from 1 to 5. atm were experimentally measured in a heated, dual-chamber vessel. Results at all pressures show that n-butanol has the highest flame speeds, followed by s-butanol and i-butanol, and then t-butanol. Results further show that the reduced Markstein length measured for n-butanol as compared to other isomers is a flame thickness effect, and that all four isomers have similar Markstein numbers, which is the appropriate nondimensional parameter to quantify flame stretch. Computation and flame chemistry analysis were performed using two recently published kinetic models on butanol isomers by Sarathy et al. and Ranzi et al., respectively. Comparison shows the former model satisfactorily agrees with the present results while agreement of the latter is less satisfactory. Based on reaction path analysis the major differences of the two models on fuel cracking pathway were identified. It is concluded that the primary reason for the lowered flame speed of s-butanol, i-butanol and t-butanol is that they crack into more branched intermediate species which are relatively stable, such as iso-butene, iso-propenol and acetone. This indicates that the general rule that fuel branching reduces flame speed for hydrocarbons can also be applied to alcohols, and that the fundamental reason for this generality is that in alcohols C. O has similar bond energy to the C. C bond while O. H has similar bond energy to the C. H bond.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2744-2756
Number of pages13
JournalCombustion and Flame
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


  • Butanol isomers
  • Flame chemistry
  • Laminar flame speeds
  • Markstein lengths


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