Dynamics of hydrodynamically unstable premixed flames in a gravitational field–local and global bifurcation structures

Kaname Matsue, Moshe Matalon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The dynamics of hydrodynamically unstable premixed flames are studied using the nonlinear Michelson–Sivashinsky (MS) equation, modified appropriately to incorporate effects due to gravity. The problem depends on two parameters: the Markstein number that characterises the combustible mixture and its diffusion properties, and the gravitational parameter that represents the ratio of buoyancy to inertial forces. A comprehensive portrait of all possible equilibrium solutions are obtained for a wide range of parameters, using a continuation methodology adopted from bifurcation theory. The results heighten the distinction between upward and downward propagation. In the absence of gravity, the nonlinear development always leads to stationary solutions, namely, cellular flames propagating at a constant speed without change in shape. When decreasing the Markstein number, a modest growth in amplitude is observed with the propagation speed reaching an upper bound. For upward propagation, the equilibrium states are also stationary solutions, but their spatial structure depends on the initial conditions leading to their development. The combined Darrieus–Landau and Rayleigh–Taylor instabilities create profiles of invariably larger amplitudes and sharper crests that propagate at an increasingly faster speed when reducing the Markstein number. For downward propagation, the equilibrium states consist in addition to stationary structures time-periodic solutions, namely, pulsating flames propagating at a constant average speed. The stabilising influence of gravity dampens the nonlinear growth and leads to spatiotemporal changes in flame morphology, such as the formation of multi-crest stationary profiles or pulsating cell splitting and merging patterns, and an overall reduction in propagation speed. The transition between these states occurs at bifurcation and exchange of stability points, which becomes more prominent when reducing the Markstein number and/or increasing the influence of gravity. In addition to the local bifurcation characterisation the global bifurcation structure of the equation, obtained by tracing the continuation of the bifurcation points themselves unravels qualitative features such as the manifestation of bi-stability and hysteresis, and/or the onset and sustenance of time-periodic solutions. Overall, the results exhibit the rich and complex dynamics that occur when gravity, however small, becomes physically meaningful.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)346-374
Number of pages29
JournalCombustion Theory and Modelling
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2023


  • Darrieus–Landau instability
  • Michelson–Sivashinsky equation
  • continuation
  • downward propagation
  • flame dynamics
  • global bifurcation
  • upward propagation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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