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Towards a priori Models for Differential Diffusion in Turbulent Non-Premixed Flames


Burali, Nicholas (2018) Towards a priori Models for Differential Diffusion in Turbulent Non-Premixed Flames. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/N3VJ-BE39.


In this work, progress is made towards the correct modeling of differential diffusion, both for resolved simulations, and for reduced-order combustion models. For resolved simulations, the validity and the limitations of the constant non-unity Lewis number approach in the description of molecular mixing in laminar and turbulent flames is studied. Three test cases are selected, including a lean, highly unstable, premixed hydrogen/air flame, a lean turbulent premixed n-heptane/air flame, and a laminar ethylene/air coflow diffusion flame. For the hydrogen flame, both a laminar and a turbulent configuration are considered. The three flames are characterized by Lewis numbers which are less than unity, greater than unity, and close to unity, respectively. For each flame, mixture-averaged transport simulations are carried out and used as reference data. The analysis suggests that, for numerous combustion configurations, the constant non-unity Lewis number approximation leads to small errors when the set of Lewis numbers is chosen properly. For the selected test cases and our numerical framework, the reduction of computational cost is found to be minimal. Two different methods of evaluating the Lewis numbers are tested, with both performing well, and neither consistently better than the other.

The flamelet-based chemistry tabulation technique is a popular reduced-order chemical model for non-premixed turbulent flames. In this approach, the correct choice of the species Lewis numbers in the flamelet equations plays an important role. Experimental results have highlighted that, in turbulent non-premixed jet flames, turbulent transport becomes gradually dominant over molecular mixing with (i) increasing axial distance from the burner exit plane, and (ii) increasing jet Reynolds number. In the current work, this transition is characterized and a priori models for the effective species Lewis numbers in turbulent non-premixed flames are assessed.

First, a flamelet-based methodology is proposed to extract these effective Lewis numbers from data sets of turbulent non-premixed flames. This methodology is then applied to the Sandia non-premixed methane/air jet flames B, C, D, and E (R. Barlow, Int. Work. Meas. Comput. Turb. Non-Prem. Flames, 2003). The effective Lewis numbers are found to transition from their laminar values, close to the burner exit plane, to unity further downstream. Previously-suggested scalings for the effective Lewis numbers are then assessed.

To overcome the limitations associated with the experimental data, a campaign of Direct Numerical Simulations (DNS) of Sandia flame B is carried out. A baseline grid is carefully designed, and grid independence is assessed through simulations using refined grids in the axial, radial and azimuthal directions. Radiation and differential diffusion effects are systematically isolated by considering radiating and unity Lewis number cases, respectively. The DNS database is then validated using available measured statistics for flame B, and comparisons to the higher Reynolds number flames are carried out. Effective Lewis numbers extracted from the DNS data are found to transition to unity with increasing downstream distance. Finally, the scalings for the effective Lewis numbers are re-computed from the DNS data base, and compared to the higher Reynolds number flames.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Differential diffusion, Lewis numbers, turbulent transport, molecular diffusion, turbulent non-premixed flames
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Mechanical Engineering
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Blanquart, Guillaume
Thesis Committee:
  • Colonius, Tim (chair)
  • Hunt, Melany L.
  • Meiron, Daniel I.
  • Blanquart, Guillaume
Defense Date:22 May 2018
Non-Caltech Author Email:nicholas (AT)
Funding AgencyGrant Number
National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) FellowshipFA9550-11-C-0028
Josephine de Kármán Fellowship TrustUNSPECIFIED
Department of Energy (DOE)DE-SC0006591
Department of Energy (DOE)DE-AC02-05CH11231
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:06062018-163232775
Persistent URL:
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription 3 is based on this publication.
Burali, Nicholas0000-0002-0733-0577
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:11030
Deposited By: Nicholas Burali
Deposited On:12 Jun 2018 00:55
Last Modified:25 Oct 2023 20:59

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