The propagation of premixed flames in closed tubes

Moshe Matalon, Philippe Metzener

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


A nonlinear evolution equation that describes the propagation of a premixed flame in a closed tube has been derived from the general conservation equations. What distinguishes it from other similar equations is a memory term whose origin is in the vorticity production at the flame front. The two important parameters in this equation are the tube's aspect ratio and the Markstein parameter. A linear stability analysis indicates that when the Markstein parameter α is above a critical value αc the planar flame is the stable equilibrium solution. For α below αc the planar flame is no longer stable and there is a band of growing modes. Numerical solutions of the full nonlinear equation confirm this conclusion. Starting with random initial conditions the results indicate that, after a short transient, a flat flame develops when α > αc and it remains flat until it reaches the end of the tube. When α < αc, on the other hand, stable curved flames may develop down the tube. Depending on the initial conditions the flame assumes either a cellular structure, characterized by a finite number of cells convex towards the unburned gas, or a tulip shape characterized by a sharp indentation at the centre of the tube pointing toward the burned gases. In particular, if the initial conditions are chosen so as to simulate the elongated finger-like flame that evolves from an ignition source, a tulip flame evolves downstream. In accord with experimental observations the tulip shape forms only after the flame has travelled a certain distance down the tube, it does not form in short tubes and its formation depends on the mixture composition. While the initial deformation of the flame front is a direct result of the hydrodynamic instability, the actual formation of the tulip flame results from the vortical motion created in the burned gas which is a consequence of the vorticity produced at the flame front.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)331-350
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - Apr 10 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'The propagation of premixed flames in closed tubes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this