Journal of Fluid Mechanics

The evolution equation for the flame surface density in turbulent premixed combustion

Arnaud Trouvé a1p1 and Thierry Poinsot a2
a1 Center for Turbulence Research, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA
a2 CNRS, Institut de Mécanique des Fluides de Toulouse, 31400, France

Article author query
trouvé a   [Google Scholar] 
poinsot t   [Google Scholar] 


One basic effect of turbulence in turbulent premixed combustion is for the fluctuating velocity field to wrinkle the flame and greatly increase its surface area. In the flamelet theory, this effect is described by the flame surface density. An exact evolution equation for the flame surface density, called the Σ-equation, may be written, where basic physical mechanisms like production by hydrodynamic straining and destruction by propagation effects are described explicitly. Direct numerical simulation (DNS) is used in this paper to estimate the different terms appearing in the Σ-equation. The numerical configuration corresponds to three-dimensional premixed flames in isotropic turbulent flow. The simulations are performed for various mixture Lewis numbers in order to modify the strength and nature of the flame-flow coupling. The DNS-based analysis provides much information relevant to flamelet models. In particular, the flame surface density, and the source and sink terms for the flame surface density, are resolved spatially across the turbulent flame brush. The geometry as well as the dynamics of the flame differ quite significantly from one end of the reaction zone to the other. For instance, contrary to the intuitive idea that flame propagation effects merely counteract the wrinkling due to the turbulence, the role of flame propagation is not constant across the turbulent brush and switches from flame surface production at the front to flame surface dissipation at the back. Direct comparisons with flamelet models are also performed. The Bray-Moss-Libby assumption that the flame surface density is proportional to the flamelet crossing frequency, a quantity that can be measured in experiments, is found to be valid. Major uncertainties remain, however, over an appropriate description of the flamelet crossing frequency. In comparison, the coherent flame model of Marble & Broadwell achieves closure at the level of the Σ-equation and provides a more promising physically based description of the flame surface dynamics. Some areas where the model needs improvement are identified.

(Published Online April 26 2006)
(Received March 15 1993)
(Revised March 25 1994)

p1 Present address: Institut Français du Pétrole, 1 et 4, avenue de Bois-Préau, BP 311, 92506 Rueil-Malmaison, France