A Caltech Library Service

A chemical reaction in a turbulent jet


Shea, John R. (1976) A chemical reaction in a turbulent jet. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/BJQT-9A50.


The turbulent mixing and subsequent chemical reaction of gases is an essential part of many technological processes ranging from gas furnaces to chemical lasers. Surprisingly, there is very little information, either theoretical or experimental, about the actual rate of the chemical reaction in such processes. Generally the chemical kinetics are well understood, but the process of turbulent mixing is not. Many measurements of mixing in turbulent jets have been made in the past, but they have generally failed to distinguish essentially unmixed gas in the turbulent mixing zone from gas which is mixed on a molecular scale. Knowledge of where turbulent fluid is mixed on a molecular scale is critical for predicting chemical reaction rates in the flow.

In this experiment the rate of a chemical reaction in an axisymmetric turbulent jet is studied, and the results are used to determine the rate of molecular mixing in the jet. A turbulent jet containing dilute ozone in an inert mixture of nitrogen and oxygen flows into a stagnant tank of nitric oxide and nitrogen. When the gases mix on a molecular scale, the ozone and nitric oxide rapidly react to produce oxygen and nitrogen dioxide. The rate at which the mixing and chemical reaction proceeds is determined by using an ultraviolet light absorption technique to measure the time averaged ozone concentration at points throughout the jets mixing zone.

The experiment establishes a criterion for determining when a reaction of known chemical kinetics is sufficiently rapid that chemical nonequilibrium has a negligible effect on the mean reactant profile. When a reacting jet satisfies this criterion for equilibrium chemistry, the reactant profiles are found to be independent of jet Reynolds numbers from 4,000 to 32,000 based on the nozzle diameter.

In addition, a mixing fraction, η, is defined to measure the extent of local molecular scale mixing independently of a chemical reaction occurring in the jet. The fraction assumes values of unity in the unmixed primary jet, zero in unmixed ambient fluid, and intermediate fractions for mixtures of all proportions. Points on nonreacting jet profiles are related to time averages of η. A limiting highly reacting ozone profile, found when a large excess of nitric oxide is present in the ambient fluid, is related to the time average of an intermittency function, J(η), defined equal to unity when η is within a specified neighborhood of one and zero elsewhere. Thus the experimental measurements of ozone profiles are directly related to the statistics of molecular scale mixing in the jet.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Turbulent Mixing, Molecular-Scale Mixing
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Aeronautics
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Liepmann, Hans Wolfgang
Thesis Committee:
  • Liepmann, Hans Wolfgang (chair)
  • Roshko, Anatol
  • Coles, Donald Earl
  • Marble, Frank E.
  • Shair, Fredrick H.
  • Wulf, Oliver Reynolds
  • Setchell, Robert E.
  • Kaufmann, Aaron
Defense Date:1 July 1975
Non-Caltech Author Email:jshea (AT)
Record Number:CaltechETD:etd-11282006-152216
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:4675
Deposited By: Imported from ETD-db
Deposited On:14 Dec 2006
Last Modified:21 Dec 2019 02:14

Thesis Files

PDF (Shea_jr_1976.pdf) - Final Version
See Usage Policy.


Repository Staff Only: item control page