Effect of cylindrical confinement on the determination of laminar flame speeds using outwardly propagating flames

Michael P. Burke, Zheng Chen, Yiguang Ju, Frederick L. Dryer

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The effect of nonspherical (i.e. cylindrical) bomb geometry on the evolution of outwardly propagating flames and the determination of laminar flame speeds using the conventional constant-pressure technique is investigated experimentally and theoretically. The cylindrical chamber boundary modifies the propagation rate through the interaction of the wall with the flow induced by thermal expansion across the flame (even with constant pressure), which leads to significant distortion of the flame surface for large flame radii. These departures from the unconfined case, especially the resulting nonzero burned gas velocities, can lead to significant errors in flame speeds calculated using the conventional assumptions, especially for large flame radii. For example, at a flame radius of 0.5 times the wall radius, the flame speed calculated neglecting confinement effects can be low by ∼15% (even with constant pressure). A methodology to estimate the effect of nonzero burned gas velocities on the measured flame speed in cylindrical chambers is presented. Modeling and experiments indicate that the effect of confinement can be neglected for flame radii less than 0.3 times the wall radius while still achieving acceptable accuracy (within 3%). The methodology is applied to correct the flame speed for nonzero burned gas speeds, in order to extend the range of flame radii useful for flame speed measurements. Under the proposed scaling, the burned gas speed can be well approximated as a function of only flame radius for a given chamber geometry - i.e. the correction function need only be determined once for an apparatus and then it can be used for any mixture. Results indicate that the flow correction can be used to extract flame speeds for flame radii up to 0.5 times the wall radius with somewhat larger, yet still acceptable uncertainties for the cases studied. Flow-corrected burning velocities are measured for hydrogen and syngas mixtures at atmospheric and elevated pressures. Flow-corrected flame speeds in the small cylindrical chamber used here agree well with previously reported flame speeds from large spherical chambers. Previous papers presenting burning velocities from cylindrical chambers report performing data analysis on flame radii less than 0.5 or 0.6 times the wall radius, where the flame speed calculated neglecting confinement effects may be low by ∼15 or 20%, respectively. For cylindrical chambers, data analysis should be restricted to flame radii less than 0.3 times the wall radius or a flow correction should be employed to account for the burned gas motions. With regard to the design of future vessels, larger vessels that minimize the flow aberrations for the same flame radius are preferred. Larger vessels maximize the relatively unaffected region of data allowing for a more straightforward approach to interpret the experimental data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)771-779
Number of pages9
JournalCombustion and Flame
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


  • Burning velocity
  • Cylindrical chamber
  • Cylindrical confinement
  • Flow correction
  • High pressure
  • Hydrogen
  • Laminar flame speed
  • Markstein length
  • Outwardly propagating flame
  • Syngas


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