Cavity flameholding in an optical axisymmetric scramjet in Mach 4.5 flows

Qili Liu, Damiano Baccarella, Will Landsberg, Ananthanarayanan Veeraragavan, Tonghun Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The dynamics of an optical axisymmetric scramjet, preferred for generic combustion and flameholding studies without the corner boundary-layer effects that distort the freestream and flame propagation in rectangular scramjets, is investigated at Mach 4.5. Ethylene fuel is injected into supersonic flow via sixteen sonic fuel nozzles equally spaced in a circumferential direction and inclined at 45° to the freestream. The gaseous fuel is auto-ignited by high-enthalpy flows that are compressed and decelerated by shockwaves and boundary layers while passing through the scramjet inlet and isolator. An axisymmetric cavity located downstream of fuel injectors achieves flame holding by providing slow flow recirculation regions and inducing shockwaves at cavity leading edge and ramp to redirect and recompress flows. Flow and flame behaviors are characterized by high speed flame chemiluminescence imaging and static pressure measurement, while the detailed flame structures are resolved by instantaneous ground-state hydroxyl radical (OH) distributions using planar laser-induced fluorescence (PLIF). Numerical simulation is employed to aid the inlet/isolator design to avoid unexpected unstart introduced by shock-boundary layer interactions in the shock train region. The Mach number profiles in the radial direction are measured using a Pitot probe at the combustor exit. We demonstrate supersonic flameholding with the presence of a cavity at ethylene fueled conditions where stable combustion is achieved without scramjet unstart under both mass and heat loading. The heat addition from the cavity-stabilized flame mainly reduces the flow Mach number in the near-wall flow region. In the core flow region, the flow Mach number is decreased by the jet- and cavity-induced shockwaves and minimally affected by heat addition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3733-3740
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of the Combustion Institute
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2019


  • Axisymmetric scramjet
  • Cavity flameholder
  • Ethylene fuel
  • Flame visualization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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