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Numerical Investigations of Transport and Chemistry Modeling for Lean Premixed Hydrogen Combustion


Schlup, Jason Robert (2018) Numerical Investigations of Transport and Chemistry Modeling for Lean Premixed Hydrogen Combustion. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/KFN6-7K54.


The use of hydrogen as a fuel for power generation applications has been suggested as an additive to, or replacement of, hydrocarbon fuels. The safety of hydrogen combustion has also received recent attention due to nuclear power plant disasters and the rise of hydrogen refuelling stations. In these uses and scenarios, lean hydrogen--air flames are prone to thermo-diffusive instabilities which can be dangerous to equipment and personnel. These instabilities are heavily influenced by two mechanisms: transport properties (e.g., diffusion) and chemical species production rates. This thesis investigates lean premixed hydrogen combustion using direct numerical simulations. A wide range of flame configurations are considered, spanning one-dimensional steady configurations to three-dimensional unsteady laminar and turbulent flames with high curvature. In particular, the two controlling mechanisms of thermo-diffusive instabilities are carefully investigated.

The effects of transport properties, in particular the importance of thermal diffusion in these mixtures, are quantified through global and local evaluations. Thermal diffusion is found to change flame speeds in one-dimensional flat flames, and also modify species profiles due to the increased diffusivity of light reactants. The impact of thermal diffusion is greatly enhanced in the presence of flame curvature, resulting in higher flame speeds (20% to 30% for two- and three-dimensional laminar and turbulent flames), fuel consumption, and flame surface area relative to simulations neglecting thermal diffusion. The mixture-averaged thermal diffusion model proposed by Chapman and Cowling (1970) is found to accurately reproduce global and local flame statistics (including enhanced burning and local extinction) computed using multicomponent transport at significantly reduced costs. Further cost reductions of the mixture-averaged thermal diffusion method are undertaken, and a new model is developed with constant computational requirements for large (~100 species) chemical models. The resulting reduced thermal diffusion model additionally improves upon the accuracy of the mixture-averaged thermal diffusion technique.

The effects of fluctuating chemical source terms on flame instabilities are then investigated using tabulated chemistry. One-dimensional unstretched flames including non-equal diffusion and thermal diffusion are incorporated into a chemistry table. This table successfully captures the interaction of differential diffusion and flame curvature. The chemistry tabulation approach is applied to a similar set of flame configurations, and accurate predictions of global and local statistics are found. The tabulated chemistry method reproduces flame curvature, local enhanced burning, and local extinction of unstable flames using one-dimensional, flat, burning flames in its construction. The proposed reduced-order thermal diffusion and chemistry tabulation models significantly reduce computational costs while simultaneously including physical properties necessary to predict lean premixed hydrogen--air flame instabilities.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Hydrogen combustion, diffusion modeling, chemistry modeling, computational fluid dynamics, reacting flow, direct numerical simulation
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Aeronautics
Awards:Richard Bruce Chapman Memorial Award, 2018.
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Blanquart, Guillaume
Thesis Committee:
  • Meiron, Daniel I. (chair)
  • Pullin, Dale Ian
  • Shepherd, Joseph E.
  • Blanquart, Guillaume
Defense Date:23 May 2018
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:05312018-170312588
Persistent URL:
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription article adapted for Chapter 3. article adapted for Chapter 4.
Schlup, Jason Robert0000-0002-3121-3477
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:10991
Deposited By: Jason Schlup
Deposited On:08 Jun 2018 00:26
Last Modified:04 Oct 2019 00:22

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