Flames as gasdynamic discontinuities

M. Matalon, B. J. Matkowsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Early treatments of flames as gasdynamic discontinuities in a fluid flow are based on several hypotheses and/or on phenomenological assumptions. The simplest and earliest of such analyses, by Landau and by Darrieus prescribed the flame speed to be constant. Thus, in their analysis they ignored the structure of the flame, i.e. the details of chemical reactions, and transport processes. Employing this model to study the stability of a plane flame, they concluded that plane flames are unconditionally unstable. Yet plane flames are observed in the laboratory. To overcome this difficulty, others have attempted to improve on this model, generally through phenomenological assumptions to replace the assumption of constant velocity. In the present work we take flame structure into account and derive an equation for the propagation of the discontinuity surface for arbitrary flame shapes in general fluid flows. The structure of the flame is considered to consist of a boundary layer in which the chemical reactions occur, located inside another boundary layer in which transport processes dominate. We employ the method of matched asymptotic expansions to obtain an equation for the evolution of the shape and location of the flame front. Matching the boundary-layer solutions to the outer gasdynamic flow, we derive the appropriate jump conditions across the front. We also derive an equation for the vorticity produced in the flame, and briefly discuss the stability of a plane flame, obtaining corrections to the formula of Landau and Darrieus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)239-259
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - Nov 1982
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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