Low-frequency two-dimensional linear instability of plane detonation

Mark Short, D. Scott Stewart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An analytical dispersion relation describing the linear stability of a plane detonation wave to low-frequency two-dimensional disturbances with arbitrary wavenumbers is derived using a normal mode approach and a combination of high activation energy and Newtonian limit asymptotics, where the ratio of specific heats γ → 1. The reaction chemistry is characterized by one-step Arrhenius kinetics. The analysis assumes a large activation energy in the plane steady-state detonation wave and a characteristic linear disturbance wavelength which is longer than the fire-zone thickness. Newtonian limit asymptotics are employed to obtain a complete analytical description of the disturbance behaviour in the induction zone of the detonation wave. The analytical dispersion relation that is derived depends on the activation energy and exhibits favourable agreement with numerical solutions of the full linear stability problem for low-frequency one- and two-dimensional disturbances, even when the activation energy is only moderate. Moreover, the dispersion relation retains vitally important characteristics of the full problem such as the one-dimensional stability of the detonation wave to low-frequency disturbances for decreasing activation energies or increasing overdrives. When two-dimensional oscillatory disturbances are considered, the analytical dispersion relation predicts a monotonic increase in the disturbance growth rate with increasing wavenumber, until a maximum growth rate is reached at a finite wavenumber. Subsequently the growth rate decays with further increases in wavenumber until the detonation becomes stable to the two-dimensional disturbance. In addition, through a new detailed analysis of the behaviour of the perturbations near the fire front, the present analysis is found to be equally valid for detonation waves travelling at the Chapman-Jouguet velocity and for detonation waves which are overdriven. It is found that in contrast to the standard imposition of a radiation or piston condition on acoustic disturbances in the equilibrium zone for overdriven waves, a compatibility condition on the perturbation jump conditions across the fire zone must be satisfied for detonation waves propagating at the Chapman-Jouguet detonation velocity. An insight into the physical mechanisms of the one- and two-dimensional linear instability is also gained, and is found to involve an intricate coupling of acoustic and entropy wave propagation within the detonation wave.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)249-295
Number of pages47
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - Jun 10 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Low-frequency two-dimensional linear instability of plane detonation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this