Self-turbulization in cellularly unstable laminar flames

Zirui Liu, Vishnu R. Unni, Swetaprovo Chaudhuri, Ran Sui, Chung K. Law, Abhishek Saha

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16 Scopus citations


It has been suggested that a cellularly unstable laminar flame, which is freely propagating in unbounded space, can accelerate and evolve into a turbulent flame with the neighbouring flow exhibiting the basic characteristics of turbulence. Famously known as self-turbulization, this conceptual transition in the flow regime, which arises from local interactions between the propagating wrinkled flamefront and the flow, is critical in extreme events such as the deflagration-to-detonation transition (DDT) leading to supernova explosions. Recognizing that such a transition in the flow regime has not been conclusively demonstrated through experiments, in this work, we present experimental measurements of flow characteristics of flame-generated 'turbulence' for expanding cellular laminar flames. The energy spectra of such 'turbulence' at different stages of cellular instability are analysed. A subsequent scaling analysis points out that the observed energy spectra are driven by the fractal topology of the cellularly unstable flamefront.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberA53
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics


  • flames
  • instability
  • transition to turbulence


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