Chemical Kinetics and Self-Ignition in a Model Supersonic Hydrogen-Air Combustor

C. J. Sung, J. G. Li, G. Yu, Chung King Law

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Self-ignition tests of a model scramjet combustor were conducted by using parallel sonic injection of gaseous hydrogen from the base of a blade-like strut into a supersonic vitiated airstream. The range of stagnation pressure and temperature studied varied from 1.0 to 4.5 MPa and from 1300 to 2200 K, respectively. Experimental results show that the self-ignition limit, in terms of either global or local quantities of pressure and temperature, exhibits a nonmonotonic behavior resembling the classical homogeneous explosion limit of the hydrogen-oxygen system. Specifically, for a given temperature, increasing pressure from a low value can render a nonignitable mixture to first become ignitable, then nonignitable again. This correspondence shows that, despite the globally supersonic nonpremixed configuration studied herein, ignition is strongly influenced by the intricate chemical reaction mechanism and thereby exhibits the homogeneous explosion character. Consequently, self-ignition criteria based on a global reaction rate approximating the complex chemistry are inadequate. An auxiliary computational study on counterflow ignition was also conducted to systematically investigate the contamination effects of vitiated air. Results indicate that the net contamination effects for the present experimental data are expected to be substantially smaller than contributions from the individual contamination species because of the counterbalancing influences of the H2O-inhibition and NO-promotion reactions in effecting ignition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)208-214
Number of pages7
JournalAIAA journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aerospace Engineering


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