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Title: Numerical simulations of the flow field ahead of an accelerating flame in an obstructed channel
Authors: Johansen, Craig
Ciccarelli, Gaby
Issue Date: 2010
Abstract: The development of the unburned gas flow field ahead of a flame front in an obstructed channel was investigated using large eddy simulation (LES). The standard Smagorinsky–Lilly and dynamic Smagorinsky–Lilly subgrid models were used in these simulations. The geometry is essentially two-dimensional. The fence-type obstacles were placed on the top and bottom surfaces of a square cross-section channel, equally spaced along the channel length at the channel height. The laminar rollup of a vortex downstream of each obstacle, transition to turbulence, and growth of a recirculation zone between consecutive obstacles were observed in the simulations. By restricting the simulations to the early stages of the flame acceleration and by varying the domain width and domain length, the three-dimensionality of the vortex rollup process was investigated. It was found that initially the rollup process was two-dimensional and unaffected by the domain length and width. As the recirculation zone grew to fill the streamwise gap between obstacles, the length and width of the computational domain started to affect the simulation results. Three-dimensional flow structures formed within the shear layer, which was generated near the obstacle tips, and the core flow was affected by large-scale turbulence. The simulation predictions were compared to experimental schlieren images of the convection of helium tracer. The development of recirculation zones resulted in the formation of contraction and expansion regions near the obstacles, which significantly affected the centerline gas velocity. Oscillations in the centerline unburned gas velocity were found to be the dominate cause for the experimentally observed early flame-tip velocity oscillations. At later simulation times, regular oscillations in the unburned streamwise gas velocity were not observed, which is contrary to the experimental evidence. This suggests that fluctuations in the burning rate might be the source of the late flame-tip velocity oscillations. The effect of the obstacle blockage ratio (BR) on the development of the unburned gas flow field was also investigated by varying the obstacle height. Simulation predictions show favorable agreement with the experimental results and indicate that turbulence production increases with increasing obstacle BR.
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