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Bluff-Body Flame Stabilization"

Blockage Effects
Experiments have been performed to define the influence of blockage on flame
stabilization by bluff bodies in dueted flow. Flameholders of a particularly simple
geometry were studied over a wide range of blockage ratios. The studies were made
while combustion was taking place and showed that flow speeds and flame geometry
depend strongly on blockage. However, the experiments demonstrated convincingly
that, at flame bIowoff, the particular combination of these variables known as the
characteristic mechanical time is independent of blockage as well as of other gross
fluid dynamic parameters'. Further experiments explored the influence of Mach number
on the flows and showed quantitatively tile changes in flow speeds and flame
geometry to be expected at high Mach numbers. The experiments showed that the
value of the mechanical time at blowoff remains unchanged at high Mach numbers
despite large changes" in the flow speeds and lengths that constitute this mechanical
time. As a guide for the experiments, a free-streamline theory was developed. This
purely fluid dynamic theory, supplemented by a few simple experimental results,
suffices to predict most of the features of bluff-body flameholding. A result of practical
importance, predicted by the theory and confirmed by experiment, is that maximum
bIowoff speed occurs at a relatively low blockage ratio.

EXPERIMENTALstudies by E. E. ZUKOSKIand F. E. MARBLE1 of bluff-body

flameholders have demonstrated that flameholding ability depends directly
on the length L of the recirculation zone, the sheltered region just downstream from the bluff body (Figure 1). Flameholding limits also depend
on the nature of the combustible mixture. Fortunately, experiments 1 have
shown that the influence of mixture properties may be expressed by a
single parameter, the chemical time r. As a result, the blowoff speed from
a bluf-body flameholder may be written very simply as (V~)Bo=(L/r)
where V._,is the flow speed past the flame.
This equation is a powerful tool in the correlation and prediction of
flameholder blowoff, since the chemical time depends only on the pressure
and temperature of the combustible mixture and on fuel type and fuel/air
ratio; chemical time is independent of the gross fluid dynamic variables
such as flow speed and flameholder geometry. For a given combustible
mixture the chemical time is the same for all flameholders. On the other
hand, the recirculation-zone length depends essentially only on the fluid
dynamic variables.
The blowoff equation shows how the blowoff flow speed V2 past the
wake varies with recirculation-zone length and chemical time at blowoff.
Of greater practical interest, however, is the speed V~ far upstream. In
terms of this speed the blowoff relation becomes (V~)Bo=(V,/V~_)(L/r).
The velocity ratio V~./Vj depends on flameholder geometry and is strongly
influenced by the proximity of duct walls or other flameholders: it depends
on blockage. Blockage also affects the length of the recirculation zone.



Duct wall


RecJrculatlon z o n e



Duct walt
\ \.?

- \\\~\'~\~,



,~ . \ N \ \ \ , \ \ \ \ -




\\, \-,- (,.

Figure 1. Flame held on flat-plate flameholder

In fact, experiments 2, :' indicated that recirculation-zone length varies

inversely as the square root of the blockage and that flow speed past the
wake increases almost linearly with blockage. However, further study was
required to elucidate the effects of blockage and other fluid dynamic
variables. Hence an experimental and theoretical investigation of the
influence of blockage on the performance of flameholders of a particularly
simple geometry was initiated. The flow about fiat plates oriented normal
to the stream was studied; this paper presents the results of the study.

The experiments were run in a 1 in. x 4 in. duct with the flameholder set
across the narrow dimension and completely spanning the duct. The duct
extended 6in. downstream from the flameholder; for comparison purposes
a few experiments were carried out with a 9 in. duct length. Duct side
walls were of Vycor glass.
Flameholders were thin flat plates with bevelled edges, oriented so that
the flat sides faced upstream. Except for a few comparison runs, the
flameholders were water-cooled.
Fuel was Standard Oil Co. thinner No. 200, a gasoline-like hydrocarbon
which was injected into heated air far upstream from the flameholder,
forming a homogeneous gaseous combustible mixture. Normal mixture
temperature was 339K.
Flame shapes and widths were obtained from spark schlieren photographs.
Recirculation-zone lengths were measured by injecting salt water into
the flame. Salt injected into the recirculation zone colours the whole
region; salt injected downstream from the end of the recirculation zone
leaves the recirculation region uncoloured.


Recirculation-zone length
The recirculation zone is the sheltered region just downstream from a
bluff-body flameholder in which hot gas recirculates, and the length L
of this region plays an extremely important role in Zukoski and Marble's
view of flame stabilization 1. Hence one of the first experiments to be
performed was the study of the influence of various fluid dynamic and
chemical parameters on the length L.
Several variables were found to have little effect on the recirculation-zone
length. For example, changing flameholder temperature made no measurable difference in the length, nor did changing flameholder aspect ratio by
running a flameholder in ducts of different widths.
On the other hand, the flow speed is a fluid dynamic variable that might
be expected to influence the recirculation-zone length. Experiments were
performed to test this influence, and some of the results are shown in
Figure 2. The dimensionless length L/d of the recirculation zone is plotted



versus Mach number:

~ 10


0 20


0.60 0-80


versus the upstream Mach number M1 for various blockage ratios (BR).
The length does indeed depend upon MI and hence upon the upstream
speed, but only weakly. Variation of length with speed is always less
rapid than speed raised to the one-quarter power. The length changes
shown ill Figure 2 are small but complex. For very low Reynolds numbers
the flames are laminar" and their recirculation zones are long. As shown
in Figure 2, this is so for BR = 1 : 32 and 1 : 16 at very low Mach numbers.
As the speed (and Reynolds number) increases, the flame becomes turbulent
and the recirculation zone shortens. This behaviour is easily explained by
consideration of the mixing zones (Figure 1). Recirculation-zone length
depends on the spreading rate of the mixing zones. When the mixing zones
spread rapidly, as they do with turbulent flames, the recirculation zone is
short, whereas when the zones spread slowly, as they do when the mixture is
laminar, the recirculation zone is long.

F. H . W R I G H T

At low Reynolds numbers, the upper two curves of Figure 2 decrease

with increasing speed; then they pass through a minimum, and thereafter
increase until a plateau is reached. Recirculation-zone length then remains
constant as the speed increases. Only when the flow past the flame becomes
supersonic does the recirculation-zone length again change. If the
blockage is high, this change may occur at a relatively low value of the
upstream Mach number, as the B R = 1 : 4 curve in Figure 2 shows.
However, for moderate blockage ratios and flameholder sizes, blowoff
occurs in the plateau region where length does not change with speed, and
flow past the flame is never supersonic.
Recirculation-zone length changes slowly with such variables as flameholder temperature, aspect ratio, and flow speed. Length does, however,
vary rapidly and consistently with flameholder blockage, as Figure 3 shows.
The dimensionless length L / d varies inversely with the square root of the
blockage ratio (the actual slope is -0"46). This is the variation found -%3
for circular cylinders but, as shown in Figure 3, the flat-plate lengths are


Figure 3. Recirculation-zoue
length versus blockage ratio



0'0B 0:10



17 per cent greater. The data for the upper curve of Figure 3 were
obtained by running flat plates of different sizes in the 1 in..x 4 in. duct.
Hence both blockage and aspect ratios varied as the plates were changed;
but the entire effect was ascribed to blockage, since previous experiments
had shown that aspect ratio had negligible influence. The blockage effect
is fluid dynamic and may be computed with the aid of the free-streamline
theory (see Appendix).
In addition to the fluid dynamic parameters, a chemical parameter--the
mixture strength--was studied, and its influence on recirculation-zone length
was explored. Lengths were measured holding flameholder geometry and
flow speed constant. Figure 4 shows typical results of such measurements
for a blockage ratio of 1 : 32. The flames at M1=0"24 and M1=0"47 are
turbulent, or nearly so, and the two curves are similar in that recirculationzone length is a minimum close to stoichiometric and increases appreciably

as the mixture ratio departs from stoichiometric. A possible explanation
for this behaviour is that the spreading rate of the mixing zones is greatest
close to stoichiometric, where the temperature is highest, and that recirculation-zone length is a minimum for the highest spreading rate.
The third curve of Figure 4 (Ml =0.13) corresponds to a set of laminar
flames and is different from the curves for turbulent flames. In general,
the recirculation zones are longer than the zones that would be expected for
turbulent flames at this speed, and the length increases monotonically with
fuel/air ratio. Again, this curve may be explained by the spreading rates

Figure 4. Recirculation- ~
zone length versus [uel / air -4
ratio; B R = 1:32



XXM1 0.24

Re : 1"6 x 104




of the mixing zones. Rich laminar flames are very smooth and mixing is
slow (if the fuel has a molecular weight greater than that of air). On the
other hand, lean flames are frequently distorted by large-scale waves which
increase the mixing rates; recirculation-zone lengths may be even shorter
than at stoichiometric.
In Figure 4, the situation approaching blowoff (indicated by short vertical
lines) is interesting. The propagating flame, downstream from the recirculation zone (Figure 1), becomes more and more tenuous until finally it
disappears altogether, an event which has been defined to be blowoff. However a residual flame frequently remains beyond this point if flow conditions
are very stable. The residual flame occupies just the recirculation-zone
region, and the recirculation-zone length remains unchanged. As conditions
become slightly more stringent, cold air enters the downstream end of the
recirculation zone and the zone shortens. A point is plotted on the lean
end of the M, =0.24 curve in Figure 4 to show the decrease in length that
may be observed under these circumstances, even though this point is
beyond the normally defined blowoff. The curves of Figure 4 show that
a chemical parameter, the mixture strength, does not greatly affect
recirculation-zone length, nor do most of the fluid dynamic parameters that
have been studied. Only the blockage has been shown to have a strong
influence on recirculation-zone length. Hence it will be especially interesting
to study the influence of blockage on other flame characteristics.


Wake width
Closely related to the recirculation-zone length is the flame or wake width.
This width may readily be measured on a schlieren photograph (see
Figure 1). Unfortunately, the outer edges of the wake are not smooth and
regular, and in measuring the width it is necessary to pick an average width
and also to average several pictures. When this is done, the results are
remarkably consistent. For a given blockage ratio, the width is virtually
constant, independent of mixture ratio, and independent of speed (Figure 5)
except when the Mach number of the flow past the flame approaches unity,
at which time the wake width decreases.











Figure 5. Wake width versus

Mach number; @= l'0







0"5 0"6

The width plotted in Figure 5 was measured at the middle of the recirculation zone. Actually, for all blockage ratios except the smallest, this
width applies to the entire downstream half of the recirculation zone; in
this region, width does not change with distance from the flameholder.
The data of Figure 5 yield another interesting result: the ratio of wake
width to flameholder diameter W/d varies inversely with the square root of
the blockage, which is exactly the variation previously found for L/d.
Hence the ratio of recirculation-zone length to wake width may be expected
to be independent of blockage ratio. This supposition is confirmed
experimentally for turbulent flames at high speeds (Figure 6): the L/W
ratio is independent of flameholder size and blockage ratio and varies only
slightly with speed, approaching a constant value at very high speeds.
(Measurements for M~ close to unity are not reliable and should be
The observations show, then, that the L/W ratio is independent of
blockage and nearly independent of speed, at least for speeds close to
blowoff. Also, the L/W ratio is nearly the same as that found for other
bluff-body flameholders2.
These results have several interesting applications. They show that the
wake width multiplied by a constant factor may be used in the blowoff




= B R = 1:8
B R = 1:4





0.5 0-6 (>7 0"8


Figure 6. Ratio o/ recirculation-zone length to width versus
Maeh number; q,=l"O

formula in place of the recirculation-zone length. (G. MAtrON ~ and others

have used this method.) The recirculation-zone length may be determined
from the wake width by means of the relation L = ( L / W ) W .
procedure is convenient experimentally, since the wake width is more easily
measured than the recirculation-zone length. Conceptually, however, it
seems appropriate to regard the length L as the primary parameter.
The L / W ratio has another interesting application. It gives an approximate measure of the rate of spreading of the mixing zones. The mixing
zones start at the flameholder and spread until, at the downstream end of
the recirculation zone, they completely fill the wake. The width of the
wake at the end of the recirculation zone is approximately W, and the
distance along the flame from flameholder to the end of the recirculation
zone is only slightly greater than L. Hence the spreading rate for one
mixing zone is approximately W/2L, or about one in eight for turbulent
flames. The mixing-zone spreading angle is roughly 7 , or about one-half
the spreading angle observed in some isothermal mixing zones. (This
difference may be partly a matter of definition.) Mixing-zone spreading
rate may also be measured directly from some of the schlieren photographs.
The measured spreading angle of the thermal mixing zones is about 7 .

Pressure and velocity distributions

Static and total pressures were measured at many points in the duct, and
velocities were calculated from the pressures; from these measurements
several interesting conclusions can be drawn. In the free stream outside
the flame, the total pressure is constant. On the other hand, in the
immediate neighbourhood of the flameholder the static pressure varies
rapidly in all directions. For example, Figure 7 shows the variation of
velocity and hence of static pressure in the streamwise direction along a
line close to the duct wall (blockage ratio 1:4). Speed starts to increase
about two flameholder widths ahead of the flameholder; it increases rapidly
over a distance of four flameholder widths and then remains practically

constant for the rest of the travel past the recirculation zone. The velocitydistribution curve is shown for stoichiometric but is the same for all fuel/air
ratios, at least to the end of the recirculation zone.
Static pressure and speed also vary in the direction normal to the duct
axis. This variation is shown in Figure 8 for three different stations along
the duct. Upstream from the flameholder, the speed is nearly constant
across the duct. Opposite the flameholder, however, speed changes rapidly
from a moderately low value at the duct wall to a maximum at the
flameholder edge. Downstream, at the middle of the recirculation zone,
speed is again constant outside the flame and equal to the speed near the
flame at the flameholder. In fact, flow speed along the flame surface is
nearly constant throughout this entire region. At low blockages, the
velocity distribution is not flat opposite the middle of the recirculation zone
but peaks at the flame surface. Nevertheless, the velocity along the flame
is constant, and the static pressure inside the recirculation zone is practically
Duct wall



Figure 7. Velocity variation in

streamwise direction along a line
close to duct wall; BR =1:4






Velocity-distribution curves such as those of Figures 7 and 8 can also

be used to estimate the mass flow into the wake. For example, the mass
flow through the schlieren boundary up to the middle of the recirculation
zone is roughly 10 per cent of the total mass flow for 1 : 4 blockage. The
percentage is smaller for lower blockage ratios.
The velocities of Figures 7 and 8 were measured at relatively low speeds.
At higher speeds, all pressures and velocities vary with Mach number.
For example, Figure 9 shows the variation with Mach number of the static
pressure on the downstream face of the flameholder. Measurements made
at different temperatures have clearly demonstrated that the pressure
variation does indeed depend on Mach number and not on another variable
such as Reynolds number. For low and moderate Mach numbers the
pressure coefficient varies as M~, while at very high Mach numbers the
variation is faster. Models can be devised that will predict the pressure


variation with Mach number, but for reasonable accuracy at very high
Mach numbers the models are complex and will not be discussed.
Duct wall



\ \ ~ \ \ \ \ / x \ N\ \

recirculation zone

Figure 8. Velocity variation in direction normal

to flow; BR = 1:4

x/ff --0,

opposite flameholder








The variation of velocity ratio V . , / V , with Mach number strongly

influences blowoff speed (V~)Bo. The effect is especially marked at high
blockage ratios and is also influenced by the actual size of the flameholder,
since blowoff speed increases with flameholder size and Mach-number
influence is more severe for higher speeds. This is an important result that

"--"< " - - - ~ " e ~ ~


Figure 9. Flameholder static ~ . 2 . 0

pressure coefficient versus
Mach number /or several
blockage ratios







0"3 '0'4

o BR=l:16
[] BR=I:8
" BR=I:4

" BR=


0"6 0"7

has been obtained from the velocity measurements. The measurements have
revealed several other striking features of the flow about flat-plate flameholders. The recirculation zone lies largely in a region of constant pressure;
inside the recirculation zone, the pressure actually increases slightly going
upstream along the centre line, and the flow direction is contrary to that
of the main stream: gas recirculates. The mixing zones bordering the
recirculation zone are regions of almost constant pressure, and flow speed
along the flame edge is nearly constant. Hence the mixing may be studied
as a constant-pressure process.
The fact that the wake of a bluff-body flameholder is a region of almost
constant pressure suggests that a free-streamline model may accurately
simulate flow conditions about the flameholder. In order to check this
supposition, flow conditions about the flat-plate flameholders have been
compared with flows computed on the basis of a free-streamline theory
(see Appendix). This theory was developed to represent the flow about a
bluff body in a channel, and includes both the Betz-Petersohn Gand Roshko 7
theories as special cases.
The free-streamline theory yields all flow quantities in terms of two
parameters, which may be chosen to be the blockage ratio BR and the
velocity ratio V2/V1. If a relation between V~_/V, and blockage ratio can
be found from experiment, then all flow quantities can be expressed in
terms of the blockage ratio alone. Wake width, wake spreading length
(the distance required for the theoretical wake to reach its maximum width),
free-streamline shape, and velocity at every point in the duct will be


~-1"5~ E dofgflaeme( ~





Figure 10. Flow speed opposite middle of recirculation

zone versus blockage ratio

predicted by the theory as functions of the blockage ratio for the particular
experimental arrangement, and the predictions may be compared with
measured values.
The flat-plate flameholder experiments yield the V2/V~ versus BR curve
shown in Figure 10. From this curve, the wake width and wake spreading




length were computed and are shown in Figure 22 for blockage ratios up to
1 : 4. Figure 11 shows that experimental values of the wake width agree
well with the predicted curve. The experimental values are the separations
between the mass flow boundaries, and the resulting wake widths are slightly
smaller than the widths between schlieren boundaries (Figure 5).
The upper curve of Figure 21 may also be compared with an experimental
The experiments showed that the wake reaches a maximum
width at approximately the middle of the recirculation zone, and that
downstream from this point the wake width is practically constant. As a
result, the recirculation-zone half-length may be compared with the wake
spreading length. Downstream from this point the theoretical wake has
constant width.



age ratio

- Zone


Agreement between recirculation-zone half-lengths and theoretical wake

spreading lengths is surprisingly good. In fact, considering the idealizations
of the model, the agreement is better than might be expected. The model
has sharp boundaries between wake and outer flow, while in reality inner
and outer flows are separated by moderately thick shear zones. Downstream from the recirculation zone the model has little resemblance to
reality, yet it accurately simulates the flow over the important forward part
of the recirculation zone and serves as a useful guide for prediction of the
influence of blockage on the flow. For small blockage ratios, this model
is appreciably better than the Betz-Petersohn model62 *, which assumes that
the flow speed far downstream is equal to the free-streamline speed.
Experimentally, this assumption is found to be good for blockage ratios
larger than 1 : 4 but is not justified for smaller blockages.
For small blockages the free-streamline speed is not equal to the speed
far downstream: nor is the speed far downstream equal to the free-stream
speed as would be required in Roshkos theory for zero blockage. Proper
choice of the velocity ratio leads to better agreement with experiment than
is possible with either of the limiting theories (Figure 12).


Figure 12 shows that use of the zero blockage curve to predict wake
widths is misleading. On the other hand, drag calculations based on the
zero blockage model may be fairly good if the proper value of V ~ / V t is
used. The zero blockage theory predicts approximately the same value for
the pressure-drag coefficient, C D = O . 8 9 ( V , , / V , ) 2, as does the theory that
takes blockage into account. However, the zero blockage theory does not


zt Measured widths between

mass flow boundaries

r ii

..BR =0 (ROSHKO theory )

,Theory with parameters

determined from


~xmeasured velocity

"x, N,,~atio vs b ockage

Figure 12. Wake width

versus V ~/ V ], experimental and theoretical



1'0 1'1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 2'0

predict the variation of V.~/V1 with blockage; the present theory provides
this information and leads to an expression for CD for flat plates at low
CD ~ 1. l + 6-2 (BR) + 9" 1 (BR) 2
. . . . [1]
(At high speeds, CD increases more rapidly with blockage than this equation
indicates.) The theory provides an easy calculation of the flameholder
pressure drag, an important quantity that is difficult to measure. The
calculation may be presumed to be accurate, since theoretical and measured
pressures agree well in the neighbourhood of the flameholder.
A final plot (Figure 13) further demonstrates the utility of the theory as
an aid to experiment. The entire flow field close to the flat plate is shown
for blockage 1 : 4. Although the plot is based on theory, it almost perfectly
represents the experimentally measured flow field. It is useful in that it
gives a consistent picture of the variations of velocity throughout the entire
field. The theoretical plot supplies other information that is of value in
an experimental study of the flow. For example, it shows proper locations
for static-pressure reference taps, proper orientations for static-pressure
tubes, velocity gradients to be expected, etc.
Thus the free-streamline theory, although calculated for a perfect fluid,
does agree surprisingly well with experimental results for flat-plate flame330


holders held normal to the stream in a duct. The theory leads to reasonably
accurate predictions of flameholder characteristics for varying blockage
ratios. If one quantity such as the coefficient of static pressure behind the
flameholder is known, then the theory exhibits the entire flow field.

"////, '////,


/////i. ~//./, " / / / / / / / / / ,








Figure 13. Theoretical velocity distribution about a flat-plate flameholder; BR=0"2507


An important aim of the flat-plate-flameholder experiments was to find

whether or not the flat plates followed the blowoff rule valid for other
bluff-body flameholders. This rule states that if the blowoff parameter,
KB,,=(V.,_r/L), is greater than unity, the flame will blow off. The rule
further says that the chemical time r does not depend upon the flameholder;
hence a plot of T versus 9 (the fuel/air ratio, fraction of stoichiometric) will
be a unique curve for all flameholders that satisfy this rule. Inversely,
from the r/9 curve the blowoff speed can be obtained for any flameholder
for which L and V~/V, are known. Figure 14 shows the r/q, curve for the
flat-plate flameholders. All the flat-plate results fall close to this curve.
Further, the curve is identical with that found 2 for other flameholders, such
as circular cylinders, in the same duct.
The chemical times found in the 1 in. x 4 in. duct are slightly longer than
those observed in a duct twice as wide, possibly because of greater heat
transfer to the walls in the narrow duct. Measurements indicate that
recirculation-zone temperatures are lower in the narrower duct, thus
supporting the view that heat lost to the walls may be important. Also,
blowoff speeds and recirculation-zone temperatures are lower with metal
duct walls than with glass. The change in blowoff speed may be due to
change in chemical time with recirculation-zone temperature. However,
if wall heat transfer is important, then the agreement in the r/q, curves for
different blockage ratios in the same duct is surprising, since the aspect
ratio and the relative importance of end effects change with blockage. The
discrepancy in r between different ducts requires further study.
The blowoff parameter does, then, apply to flat-plate flameholders.
Blowoff speeds may be predicted if the behaviour of three variables, V~,

L and r, is known close to blowoff. Fortunately, V~ and L depend in simple
fashion on factors such as flameholder size and blockage ratio, and their
values may be found from fluid dynamic experiments or from free-streamline


Figure 14. Chemical time
versus mixture ratio 9


~, BR=I:4
o BR=I:8
*' BR--1:32

v ~





theory. In addition, the chemical time T is known from previous experiments. Hence, for the flat-plate flameholders, the blowoff speed may be

where h is the duct height, d is the flameholder size, L is the length of the
recirculation zone, BR is the blockage ratio d / h , and C~ and Co are
constants. The last part of the formula is approximate and applies only
for moderate blockage ratios and at low speeds. The formula predicts
that maximum blowoff speed will be found for blockage ratio C~/C~_.
This blockage turns out to be roughly 0"35 for flat plates and roughly 056
for circular cylinders.
Blockage for peak blowoff speed is even less than the preceding values
when the Mach number of the flow past the flame is high. Indeed, the
entire blowoff formula is subject to correction when this Mach number is
high: blowoff speeds are lower than those predicted by the low-speed
formula. The correction increases with blockage ratio, and the peak of
the blowoff versus blockage curve is shifted toward low values of the
blockage. This shift is apparent in an experimental curve presented in
Figure 15. Peak blowoff occurs at a blockage less than 1 : 10. However,
the top of the curve is flat and blowoff speeds at the higher blockage ratios
are only slightly lower than the peak velocity.
Corrections to be applied to the blowoff formula depend upon flameholder
shape and size as well as upon blockage ratio. The corrections are larger


for flat plates than for other shapes such as wedges or cylinders. The
corrections are large for large flameholders whose normal blowoff speed is
high and hence, for a given blockage ratio, the corrections are greater in a
large duct than in a small one. Further, since lean blowoff speeds are
lower, the Mach number has less influence on lean blowoffs than on
blowoffs close to stoichiometric.
For several reasons, the very low value of blockage for maximum blowoff
shown in Figure 15 probably does not have great significance for practical
applications. Factors such as flow oscillations, turbulence, interference
effects, Reynolds number, and mixture inhomogeneities, which were
carefully avoided in these experiments, may have less influence upon blowoff
speeds from large flameholders than upon blowoffs from small ftameholders
operating at low blockage ratios.








Figure 15. M a x i m u m blowoff speeds [or flat-Hate llameholders in 1 in. 4 in. duct

Previous work ~ had shown that the problem of b l u f f - M y flameholding can

be divided into two parts: the chemistry of the combustion reaction and the
fluid dynamics of the flow. Even more convincingly than past work, the
experiments reported here demonstrated that the two parts of the problem
may be studied separately. The flat-plate experiments were particularly
significant in showing that the flow patterns about bluff-body flameholders
are nearly independent of the combustion chemistry and depend only on
fluid dynamic variables. In fact, the flow patterns can be predicted by a
purely fluid dynamic theory developed in this paper as a guide for the
Flame blowoff depends on the flow patterns and hence depends directly
on fluid dynamic parameters. An interesting example of an essentially
fluid dynamic variable that influences blowoff is furnished by the blockage.
The free-streamline theory predicts the principal effects of blockage on
flame stabilization, thus emphasizing the essentially fluid dynamic character
of one part of the flameholding problem. Theory and experiment both
show that both the flow speed V~ past the flame and the recirculation-zone
length L depend upon flameholder blockage. Hence the value of the
blowoff parameter (rV,~/L) depends directly on the blockage. If the
explicit variations of speed and recirculation-zone length are taken into
account, the blowoff speed may be written as a function of the blockage
as follows
(BRy ,'~


where V1 is the upstream speed, BR is the blockage ratio, h is the duct

height, r is the chemical-time parameter, and C1 and C2 are constants.
The formula predicts that maximum blowoff speed will occur at
BR'~C1/C,,; for flat-plate flameholders this blockage turns out to be
0-35, a surprisingly low value.
When the Mach number of the flow past the flame is very high,
compressibility affects the flow patterns and it is necessary to apply a
correction to the preceding blowoff formula. Fortunately, the correction
may be made by straightforward application of fluid dynamic principles;
the validity of this procedure is a further demonstration of the essentially
fluid dynamic character of one portion of the blowoff problem.
The experiments and the analysis showed the manner in which various
fluid dynamic parameters influence flame blowoff as well as demonstrating
the fact that the influence is nearly independent of chemical parameters.
On the other hand, experiments demonstrated that the combustion
chemistry is also an important factor governing blowoff and that the
chemistry is not influenced by gross fluid dynamic variables such as flow
Reynolds number, Mach number, or blockage. An impressive example of
the independence of the chemistry is afforded by Figure 14, in which the
chemical-time parameter is plotted versus fuel/air ratio. The chemical
time at a given mixture strength is identical for different-sized flameholders
and is indeed the same as the chemical time found for other types of
The experiments with flat-plate flameholders and the associated fluid
dynamic theory furnished convincing proof that the complex flamestabilization problem may be split into two simple and nearly independent
parts, one fluid dynamic and the other chemical.

BR = blockage ratio = d / h
CD= pressure drag coefficient
CF=(flameholder static pressure minus upstream static pressure)/
upstream dynamic pressure
d = flameholder width or diameter (in y direction)
h = duct height (in y direction)
KBo= V2r/L=blowoff parameter, reciprocal of Damkohler's parameter I
L = recirculation-zone length
M = Mach number
M~ = Mach number far upstream
M2 = Math number at edge of flame
Q = source strength
Re=Reynolds number, based on flameholder width and flow speed
far upstream
v = conjugate of complex velocity
V = flow speed
V~ =flow speed far upstream
V2 = flow speed at edge of flame
V~ = flow speed far downstream
W = wake width opposite middle of recirculation zone, x = L


x = axial coordinate measured from front face of ttameholder

xw=distance from flameholder to beginning of constant wake width
y = transverse coordinate measured from duct centre line

z = x + iy
0 = angular coordinate in hodograph plane
r = chemical-time parameter
= fuel/air ratio, fraction of stoichiometric
q, = complex potential of flow in z plane
1 =conditions far upstream
2 - conditions at outer edge of flame
3 = conditions far downstream
BO = blowoff
F = flameholder
W = initial point of constant width wake

A new free-streamline theory for the

(Figure 16) has been developed. This
V 3 far downstream to equal the speed
thus is more general than the theory of
A 3,


flow about a flat plate in a duct

theory does not require the speed
V2 along the free streamline, and



A 1 =,-

Figure 16. Free-streamline flow pattern

The flow may be obtained by considering the hodograph, Figure 17.

The hodograph is drawn for the conjugate v of the complex velocity.
That is,
v = V exp ( - iO)

. . . . [3]

where V is the magnitude of the velocity at any point in the physical plane
and the angle 0 specifies its direction. The complex potential of the
flow in the physical or z plane is easily found from a distribution of sources
and sinks in the hodograph plane (Figure 18).



Figure 17. Hodograph for free-streamline pattern

v= V iO

(h )(V,)l n ~ - V ~ / ~ V ~


. . . . [41


Then, since

. . . . [51

the coordinate z(=x+iy) of any point in the physical plane is given in

terms of (v/V.), (V1/V~.), and (V3/V2) by
z = f vl dZ~v


The explicit formula for z is lengthy and will be omitted. A few special
cases are:
Blockage ratio:
d (

[ ( l _ v ~ V~

, =(~,)+(V~V~

V,'] tan
,, -,~.,_,~,

( ~V:
' jf. _l,
. . . . [7]

Figure 18. Source distribution in hodograph plane





Wake spreading length:

h_ 1 V
V 3 V,,
1 V3
i?~) tan
+ v;)tanh-(~,,)]


Wake width:
-h .


Applying formula 7, the velocity ratio V:/V~ may be plotted versus

blockage ratio with V3 / V~ as parameter. For comparison with experimental
reality the appropriate value of V3/V~ must be chosen for each blockage
ratio. Then all other quantities may be expressed in terms of the blockage
ratio alone. (It is, of course, unnecessary to start with the blockage ratio.
In some cases the wake width or the free-streamline shape may prove to
be convenient starting points.)
This free-streamline theory includes both the zero blockage 7 and the
V:~ = V, theories ~, ~ as special cases but involves an additional parameter.
The theory has been developed for flat plates only but can easily be
extended to other bluff bodies, such as wedges, by a suitable arrangement
of sources and sinks in the hodograph plane.

This paper presents the results of one phase of research carried out at
the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology under
Contract No. DA-O4-495-Ord 18, sponsored by the Department of the
Army, Ordnance Corps.
Jet Propulsion Laboratory,
Cali[ornia Institute of Technology
(Received September 1958)

E. E. and MARBLE, F. E. Paper in Proceedings of the Gas Dynamics

Symposium on Thermochemistry (held at Northwestern University, Evanston,
Illinois, 22-24 August 1955), pp 205 210. Northwestern University Press
'-' FOSTER, J. R. 'The effects of combustion chamber blockage on bluff body flame
stabilization.' Thesis in Aeronautical Engineering, California Institute of Technology, June 1956
3 ZUKOSKI, E. E. Sixth Symposium (International) on Combustion, pp 942-943.
Reinhold: New York, 1956
.1ZUKOSKI,E. E. and MARBLE,F. E. Paper No. 14 in AGARDograph No. 9, Combus;ion Researches and Reviews 1955. Butterworths : London, 1955
:' MATRON, G. Rech. Adro. 1957, 57, 11
~; BETZ, A. a n d PETERSOHN, E. Tech. Note Nat. Adv. Comm. Aero., Wash., No. 667
z ROSHKO,A. Tech. Note Nat. Adv. Comm. Aero., Wash., No. 3168 (1954)
CORNELL,W. G. Trans. Amer. Soc. mech. Engrs, 1956, 78, 573