The hydrodynamic structure of unstable cellular detonations

Matei I. Radulesco, Gary J. Sharpe, Chung K. Law, John H.S. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

163 Scopus citations


The study analyses the cellular reaction zone structure of unstable methane-oxygen detonations, which are characterized by large hydrodynamic fluctuations and unreacted pockets with a fine structure. Complementary series of experiments and numerical simulations are presented, which illustrate the important role of hydrodynamic instabilities and diffusive phenomena in dictating the global reaction rate in detonations. The quantitative comparison between experiment and numerics also permits identification of the current limitations of numerical simulations in capturing these effects. Simulations are also performed for parameters corresponding to weakly unstable cellular detonations, which are used for comparison and validation. The numerical and experimental results are used to guide the formulation of a stochastic steady one-dimensional representation for such detonation waves. The numerically obtained flow fields were Favre-averaged in time and space. The resulting one-dimensional profiles for the mean values and fluctuations reveal the two important length scales, the first being associated with the chemical exothermicity and the second (the 'hydrodynamic thickness') with the slower dissipation of the hydrodynamic fluctuations, which govern the location of the average sonic surface. This second length scale is found to be much longer than that predicted by one-dimensional reaction zone calculations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-81
Number of pages51
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - Jun 10 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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