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Combustion, Explosion, and Shock Waves, Vol. 48, No. 5, pp. 526535, 2012.

c D. Bradley, M. Lawes, M. Mansour.

Original Russian Text 

Turbulent Deflagrations, Autoignitions,

and Detonations
D. Bradleya , M. Lawesa , and M. Mansourb

UDC 536.46

Translated from Fizika Goreniya i Vzryva, Vol. 48, No. 5, pp. 3949, SeptemberOctober, 2012.
Original article submitted September October 14, 2011.

Abstract: Measurements of turbulent burning velocities in fan-stirred explosion bombs show an

initial linear increase with the fan speed and RMS turbulent velocity. The line then bends over to
form a plateau of high values around the maximum attainable burning velocity. A further increase
in fan speed leads to the eventual complete quenching of the ame due to increasing localised
extinctions because of the ame stretch rate. The greater the Markstein number, the more readily
does ame quenching occur. Flame propagation along a duct closed at one end, with and without
baes to increase the turbulence, is subjected to a one-dimensional analysis. The ame, initiated
at the closed end of the long duct, accelerates by the turbulent feedback mechanism, creating a
shock wave ahead of it, until the maximum turbulent burning velocity for the mixture is attained.
With the conning walls, the mixture is compressed between the ame and the shock plane up
to the point where it might autoignite. This can be followed by a deagration to detonation
transition. The maximum shock intensity occurs with the maximum attainable turbulent burning
velocity, and this denes the limit for autoignition of the mixture. For more reactive mixtures,
autoignition can occur at turbulent burning velocities that are less than the maximum attainable
one. Autoignition can be followed by quasi-detonation or fully developed detonation. The stability
of ensuing detonations is discussed, along with the conditions that may lead to their extinction.
Keywords: turbulent deagrations, autoignitions, detonations, ame quenching.
DOI: 10.1134/S0010508212050048

In the deagration to detonation transition (DDT)
in a duct that is closed at one end, the turbulent feedback mechanism accelerates the turbulent ame [1].
The turbulence can arise naturally through the development of a turbulent boundary layer, or it can occur
more rapidly through the introduction of appropriate
obstacles, such as cross cylinders [2] and Shchelkin spirals [3]. Eventually, after a sucient length of ducting,
the turbulent burning velocity ut attains a maximum
value utm , which depends upon the mixture. This maximum value arises because, despite the increased ame

School of Mechanical Engineering, University of Leeds,

LS2 9JT, UK; d.bradley@leeds.ac.uk.
King Abdullah University of Science
and Technology, Saudi Arabia.


wrinkling consequent upon the increasing turbulence,

localised increasing stretch rates lead to ame extinctions. The value of ut for a given mixture enables the
strength of the shock wave, generated in the reactants
by the increasing gas velocity ahead of the ame due to
the rate of expansion of the burned gas, to be found.
The limiting mixture in which the reactants between
the shock and the ame can just autoignite depends
upon the attainment of the maximum turbulent burning velocity (utm ) for the mixture [4]. Anything less will
result in no autoignition. The attainment of utm thus
becomes the necessary condition for the autoignition of
the limiting mixtures. For more reactive mixtures, the
autoignition can occur with values of ut that are significantly smaller than utm .
Experiments in fan-stirred bombs have shown localised ame extinctions and utm to depend upon the

c 2012 by Pleiades Publishing, Ltd.


Turbulent Deflagrations, Autoignitions, and Detonations

Fig. 1. Shock wave generation by the ame: an explosion in the explosion occurs between the ame
and the shock wave.

Lewis or Markstein number of the mixture, which are

involved in the strain rate and laminar burning velocity
expressions, and the Karlovitz stretch factor [5]. The
key theoretical step is the generation, based on these
considerations, of an expression for utm . This, when
combined with the steady-state one-dimensional shock
theory, gives the associated shocked pressures and temperatures [4]. With this approach, the temperature and
pressure ratios at the shock are ultimately expressed in
terms of the values of utm normalised by the speed of
sound in the cold reactants ahead of the shock. The
value of the autoignition delay time of the mixture
at the shocked temperature and pressure determines
whether or not autoignition will occur. The Zeldovich
criterion [6] and the heat release excitation time inuence the nature of any localised transition to detonation.
Limitations to any analytical approach lie in the
limited data available at high temperatures and pressures for laminar burning velocities, Markstein numbers, and autoignition delay times. In addition, it is
dicult to obtain turbulent ame extinction data for reactive mixtures. However, it is usually the less reactive
mixtures that are of interest in the study of marginal
detonations. The one-dimensional analysis cannot predict the details of any transition to detonation. However, criteria are developed for, on the one hand, strong
ignition with stable detonation and, on the other hand,
weak ignition with unstable detonation.

The conguration for the studies of autoignition in
a duct is shown diagrammatically in Fig. 1. The ame
initiated at the closed end of the long duct accelerates
by the turbulent feedback mechanism, creating a shock
wave ahead of it. This acceleration, together with the
conning walls, can compress the mixture between the
ame and the shock plane to the point where it autoignites. When this occurs and gives rise to a detonation, it is termed a deagration to detonation transition
(DDT). The one-dimensional steady-state theory in [4]
relates the turbulent burning velocity to the strength
of the leading shock prior to autoignition. The theory


requires expressions for the turbulent burning velocity,

the mean gas velocity ahead of the ame, the ratios
of pressure, temperature, and gas velocity at the shock
wave, and the autoigniton delay time of the mixture as
functions of pressure and temperature. Conditions at
the upstream side of the planar shock wave and those
immediately behind the shock are indicated by the subscripts 1 and 2, respectively. The ratio of the ame
speed Sf to the burning velocity ut is given by the formula
Sf /ut = (A/b),


where b is the cross-sectional area of the duct, A is the

area of the ame front associated with ut , and is the
ratio of unburned to burned gas density in constantpressure combustion at p2 [4].
For calculating the conditions across the shock
wave, it is convenient to use a dimensionless parameter c, to express the dimensionless volumetric expansion
due to combustion at the post-shock elevated temperature T2 and pressure p2 [4]:

A ut
( 1)
b a1


The rst three terms on the right comprise the gas velocity along the duct ahead of the ame normalised by
a1 , which is the speed of sound in the cold mixture
ahead of the shock wave. The ratio of specic heats in
the shock is . For the duct with a rectangular cross
section in [7], it was estimated from measurements of
the schlieren images that A/b = 1.44. For ducts with
transverse cylindrical rod baes, A/b 3.5 [4]. The
gas velocity of the reactants into, and relative to, the
shock wave u1 is numerically equal to the shock velocity
along the duct because there is no gas velocity ahead of
the shock wave; the Mach number M1 = u1 /a1 is given
by the formula [4]
M1 = c/2 + (1 + c2 /4)1/2 .


The normalised theoretical turbulent ame speed in the

duct is [4]
( 1)( + 1)


The planar shock equations for p2 /p1 , T2 /T1 , and

u2 /u1 (u2 is the gas velocity relative to the shock wave
toward the ame and away from the shock) are expressed in terms of and M1 in [4]. These three ratios
and M1 for = 1.4 are shown in Fig. 2. The ratios
ut /a1 and Sf /a1 , from Eqs. (2) and (4), are also shown
for = 2.62, which is appropriate to the conditions in
[7], as also was A/b = 1.44.


Bradley et al.

Fig. 2. Speed, temperature, and pressure ratios at

the shock (from the one-dimensional theory) for =
1.4: Sf /a1 for = 2.62 and ut /a1 for = 2.62 and
A/b = 1.44.


2.1. Factors Aecting the Maximum Value
of the Burning Velocity
Measurements of the turbulent burning velocities
in fan-stirred explosion bombs show that initially they
increase linearly with the RMS turbulent velocity u [5,
8]. The curves for these relationships then bend over to
form a plateau of high values of ut before they decrease,
provided the fan speed can be increased suciently. The
increasing fan speed leads to increasing localised ame
extinctions due to the high rate of ame stretching, until the ame is completely quenched. It was found in [5]
that the greater the Lewis number, the more readily did
ame quenching occur. It is not always possible to attain suciently high values of u to quench ames if the
mixture has a relatively high laminar burning velocity
ul . For hydrogenair mixtures, only the leaner mixtures
could be quenched by this technique [9]. This is not necessarily a limitation in the present context, as there is
often little doubt that a particularly reactive mixture
will autoignite and detonate: it is the less reactive ones
on the borderline of autoignition that are of most concern. But whereas increasing turbulence can eventually
decrease the burning velocity and ame speed to the
point of extinction in a fan-stirred bomb, the feedback
mechanism operating for ame propagation along the
duct will hold these at values close to the maximum
attainable value for the mixture.
The measured values of ut /u and the onset of ame
extinctions have both been expressed in terms of the
Karlovitz stretch factor (Ka), and the strain rate Markstein number of the mixture (Masr ) [9]. The former can
be regarded as a ratio of a chemical to eddy lifetime

Fig. 3. Onset of ame quenching in lean ethanolair

ames with Masr = 4.

Ka =

l u 


where l = /ul is the laminar ame thickness and is

the kinematic viscosity. The reciprocal of u / is the
eddy lifetime, i.e., the RMS strain rate, where is the
Taylor length scale. The turbulent Reynolds number
based on this scale is related to that based on a rather
more practical integral length scale L by Re = 4ReL .
It is readily shown that [10]
Ka = 0.25(u /ul )2 Re0.5


A typical experimental relationship of ut /ul plotted

against Ka is shown in Fig. 3. This is for an ethanol
air mixture, equivalence ratio 0.8, Masr = 4, initial
pressure 0.5 MPa, and temperature 358 K, with the
measurements made as described in [11]. The plotted
points are taken from the average of ve explosions. The
plateau of fairly uniform high values of (ut /ul )m , close
to the maximum value, extends from about Ka = 0.75 to
1.25. There was an increasing uctuation in the values
of ut /ul as Ka increased, and there was a rapid general fall in values as amelet merging possibly increased
and localised ame extinctions developed increasingly
rapidly, until complete ame quenching ensued. The
probability of the ame, once established, continuing to
propagate was measured by increasing the fan speed in
a fan-stirred bomb, up to the point of ame quenching,
over a number of explosions under identical conditions.
These studies covered mixtures of CH4 , C3 H8 , and isooctane with air and very lean hydrogenair mixtures,
all in the pressure range of 0.11.5 MPa, and at room
temperature [9].
These results and a survey of measurements of
ut /ul in fan-stirred bombs suggest that the maximum

Turbulent Deflagrations, Autoignitions, and Detonations

Fig. 4. Experimentally observed upper and lower

bounding values of Ka as a function of Masr for
a propaneair mixture [4] (triangles), iso-octaneair
mixture [4] (squares), and ethanolair mixture (diamond); the bold curve shows the results calculated
by Eq. (7).

attainable values of ut /ul occur when the probability

of an initially established explosion ame continuing to
propagate was in the region of Ka 0.8 (in what follows, indicated by Ka0.8 ). It was found that the values
of Ka0.8 could be expressed in terms of Masr as
Ka0.8 (Masr + 4)1.8 = 34.4 at 3.0  Masr  11.0. (7)
Equation (7) gives a value of Ka0.8 = 0.81 for the
ethanolair explosion of Fig. 3, within the limits of the
plateau of values of ut /ul close to (ut /ul )m . Whether
it was generally true that the values of ut /ul at Ka0.8
were close to those of (ut /ul )m was explored, by measuring the values of Ka at the lower and upper bounds of
the plateau for mixtures with dierent values of Masr .
The resulting limiting values of Ka are plotted against
Masr as two bounds in Fig. 4 (dotted curves). The gure also shows the results calculated by Eq. (7) and
the experimental data [4]. The results of Fig. 4 show
that the values of Ka0.8 in the range of Masr studied
lie between the lower and upper bounds of the plateau.
Consequently, the values of ut /ul at Ka0.8 are close to
(ut /ul )m . It is interesting that the lower bound of the
plateau is less aected by Masr than the upper bound.
This is probably due to the increased rate of burning
in stretched laminar amelets at lower values of Masr .
The increasing values of Ka at the upper bound with decreasing Masr are probably due to the increasing stretch
rates for ame extinction [10].
2.2. Determination of (ut /ul )m
The approach in [4] was largely based on the theoretical analysis of [10]. The present approach employs
a comprehensive correlation of experimental turbulent


Fig. 5. Correlation of the experimental values of

(ut /ul )m with the parameters Masr and ul L/.

burning velocity data over wide ranges of fuels, equivalence ratios, and pressures up to 3 MPa. The selected
mean ame surface associated with ut was that giving
the mass rate of burning when it was multiplied by ut
and the density of the unburned mixture. The value of
ut is given by [11, 12]
ut /u = Ka ,


where the constants and can be found from rstorder expressions in Ma. More generally, the values of
and are given for positive and negative values of
Ma as follows [12]:

0.022(30 Masr )
for Masr > 0,
0.0311(30 Masr ) for Masr < 0,

0.0105(Masr 30)
for Masr > 0,
0.0075(Masr + 30) for Masr < 0.
In those cases where sucient turbulence is generated
for the ame to attain (ut /ul )m , unlike the situation in
a fan-stirred bomb, the value of u cannot be increased
further. Were it to increase, it would reduce ut , and
hence u , by the feedback mechanism.
A useful re-formulation of Eq. (6), that introduces
ut is

1/2 2/3

ut Ka ul L
u 0.25
The values of Ka0.8 are found from Eq. (7) for the appropriate values of Masr for the mixture behind the
shock. When these are substituted into Eqs. (8) and
(9), they yield ut /u at (ut /ul )m . From the known values of ul and for the mixture, we can nd ul L/ at


Fig. 6. Maximum ratios of pressures (solid curves)

and temperatures (dashed curves) across the shock
wave for dierent values of Masr and ul L/ (ul /a1 =
0.001, = 4, and A/b = 3.5).

a given value of L. It is then possible to nd (ut /ul )m

from Eq. (10). Such values are plotted against Masr for
ul L/ = 1 000, 5 000, and 10 000 in Fig. 5. Clearly, the
values of (ut /ul )m are increased by low values of Masr ,
particularly when these are negative, and by high values of ul L/. It must, however, be pointed out that the
data in Fig. 5 have been extended beyond the bounds
of the original experimental correlations.


It can be seen from Fig. 2 that the shock pressure and temperature ratios are determined by ut /a1 .
With the values of (ut /a1 )m expressed in terms of Masr
and ul L/ as in Fig. 5, the maximum value of ut /a1 ,
indicated by (ut /ul )m , can be found from the product
(ut /ul )m (ul /a1 ) if ul /a1 is known. From Fig. 2, with
this value of ut /a1 and the specied values of and A/b,
it is then possible to evaluate the maximum attainable
ratios of pressures (p2 /p1 )m and temperatures (T2 /T1 )m
as functions of Masr and ul L/. This is demonstrated
by Fig. 6, for three dierent values of ul L/ at ul /a1 =
0.001. Similarly, Fig. 7 shows these shock ratios for
three dierent values of ul /a1 at ul L/ = 1000. For
both gures, = 4 and A/b = 3.5.

Bradley et al.

Fig. 7. Maximum ratios of pressures (solid curves)

and temperatures (dashed curves) across the shock
wave for dierent values of Masr and ul /a1 (ul L/ =
1 000, = 4, and A/b = 3.5).

Figures 6 and 7 show that the factors that increase

(p2 /p1 )m and (T2 /T1 )m are lower values of Masr with
higher values of ul L/ and ul /a1 . In practice, an increase in ul L/ and ul /a1 implies high values of ul
and L. The last implies a larger duct, which also enables
the duct to accommodate the critical size of detonation
The use of the maximum values of (ut /ul )m ,
(p2 /p1 )m , and (T2 /T1 )m is important for identifying the
limit conditions for autoignition. This has been demonstrated for CH4 air and H2 air mixtures in [4]. For
more reactive mixtures, autoignition would be induced
at lower values of ut /ul < (ut /ul )m . In such cases, the
analysis is reversed. The starting point is now the values
of p2 and T2 at which the induction time is short enough
for autoignition to occur before the shocked reactants
are consumed by the ame, or at which the ame speed
attains the ChapmanJouguet (CJ) speed [13]. It is
then possible to infer the value of ut /a1 that must be
attained to create the pressure and temperature ratios
for autoignition from Fig. 2.


4.1. Hot Spot Autoignition
In practice, autoignition and a transition to either a
quasi-detonation or a self-sustaining detonation is more
complex. The reactant mixture is not homogeneous

Turbulent Deflagrations, Autoignitions, and Detonations

and is very sensitive to localised hot spots comprised
of gradients of increased reactivity [6]. The complexity of the transition to a detonation wave is apparent
from the high speed schlieren photographs in the seminal studies of Urtiew and Oppenheim [7]. For example,
localised autoignition within the boundary layer of the
duct wall can create a localised shock wave that, importantly, triggers earlier autoignition. The autoignition
front then propagates at a higher speed than the turbulent ame, sweeping through the reactants before penetrating the leading shock and generating a self-sustained
detonation there. At the same time, it triggers transverse waves and creates triple wave interactions. It is
instructive to summarise the details of autoignition at
a hot spot.
The strength of the pressure wave generated at a
single spherical hot spot is determined by the associated autoignitive propagation velocity relative to the
unburned mixture ua given by
where r is the distance along the gradient and i is the
induction time. Here, we shall assume the composition
to be homogeneous and the heterogeneity to arise entirely from temperature gradients. Hence, we have
ua =
dT p
ua =

It is convenient to employ a dimensionless parameter

dT p
where a is the speed of sound in the unburned mixture.
It is shown in [14] that the amplitude of the associated autoignitive pressure pulse, when normalised by
the mean pressure, is of the order of 2 . The values of
(di /dT )p at a given p and T are conveniently expressed
in terms of the local global activation energy E in the

= i
dT p
RT 2
For values of close to unity, the pressure pulse is strong
and the autoignitive propagation speed resonates with
the speed of sound. The chemical reaction wave becomes coupled with the acoustic wave, further strengthening it in a localised developing detonation. This does
not necessarily propagate outside the hot spot. This
regime is usually associated with low values of i , E/R,
and dT /dr.
The residence time of the acoustic wave in a hot
spot of radius r0 is approximately r0 /a. The duration of the heat release is measured by the excitation


time e [s] [15]. This has a dierent global activation

energy from that associated with i [ms] in Eq. (14)
[16]. The strengthening of the amplitude of the pressure pulse by the unloading of chemical energy into the
acoustic wave can be quantied approximately by expressing the number of excitation times [16, 17] that
can be contained within the hot spot residence time
r0 /a given by
= r/ae .
Direct numerical simulations of autoignition and developing detonations [16, 17] at individual hot spots have
included computations of i and e with detailed chemical kinetics and have enabled the values of and to
be obtained over ranges of dierent conditions. Some
results of the simulations are shown in terms of and
in Fig. 8. As suggested above, the detonation development depended not only upon the value of , but
also upon that of . The gure shows the upper and
lower limits of the developing detonation regime, indicated by u and l . These form a peninsula with a long
toe, within which detonations could develop within the
hot spot, but not necessarily continue to propagate outside it. It was found in [18] that the values of close to
unity and high values of were necessary for detonation
to continue outside a single hot spot.
Outside the peninsula, regimes of supersonic and
subsonic autoignitive wave propagations are indicated,
respectively, as domains I and II in Fig. 8. An instantaneous thermal explosion is represented by values of
close to zero outside the peninsula. In this regime,
when < 1, the reaction wave is faster than the acoustic wave, there is no coupling between them, and the
maximum pressure ratio is less than in a detonation.
4.2. Quasi-Detonations and Developed Detonations
Initial hot spot autoignitions in the highly turbulent ow eld created by transverse cylindrical, or other,
obstacles may not create shock waves strong enough to
establish a coherent detonation [2, 19]. A stochastic
regime is created, intermediate between those of a turbulent ame and a developed detonation. This regime
of quasi-detonations possesses characteristics of both its
neighbours. Shocks are generated that interact with
ames, overall ame speeds are high, but less than the
ChapmanJouguet values. Flames extinguish and reignite, autoignitive propagations develop, and some of
them, aided by shock reections, develop into detonations that also then may decay.
Pressure uctuations arising from such extinctions
and re-ignitions of ames and detonations can be attenuated by diraction around obstacles [2]. Just beyond this regime, detonations appear when local conditions in un-reacted material allow a spontaneous wave


Bradley et al.

4.3. Stability and Failure of Detonations

Fig. 8. Regimes of autoignitions for individual hot

spots: u and l are the limits of the peninsula
for developing detonation within the hot spot; domains I and II are regimes of supersonic and subsonic wave propagation, respectively; the horizontal
dotted shading indicates the strong ignition regime.

to form, and the wave evolves into a shock that is

strong enough to become a detonation that can propagate outside the gradient [19]. Even in the absence of a
completely developed detonation, the quasi-detonation
regime can have high ame speeds, strong shocks with
violently uctuating pressures, and be highly damaging.
There is great variety in the details of the establishment of stable detonations. Once established, their integrity is threatened through the possible disruption of
the coupling of the leading shock and the ensuing chemical kinetics. The one-dimensional analysis can predict
when autoignition and detonation are initiated, but not
the details of the associated transformation. Indeed,
a purely one-dimensional planar detonation is unstable
to transverse waves that are inevitably generated. It is
only stabilised by the establishment of a complex threedimensional structure, in which transverse waves interact with the leading shock. Shock waves are reected
from the duct walls, and triple points are created at
the intersection of incident and reected shock waves.
A Mach stem is formed as the intersection is forced away
from the wall. The paths of intense combustion close to
the triple point create a cellular structure. The shock
reections cause the leading shock front to pulsate quite
strongly in the direction of propagation, alternating between strong Mach stems and weaker incident shocks.
In spite of these complexities, the CJ velocities and
the CJ equilibrated state are eventually attained, and
a stochastic steady, one-dimensional representation of
detonation waves would seem to be attainable [20].

Autoignition and subsequent development of a detonation have been classied into two contrasting mechanisms, one involving a strong explosion, and the other
involving a weak multi-spot explosion [21, 22]. A strong
explosion is characterised by a practically instantaneous
establishment of a continuous pressure front at small
values of both (di /dT )p and . A weak explosion is
characterised by the slower growth of hot spots at dispersed locations and larger values of both (di /dT )p
and . Furthermore, in weak or mild ignitions, there is
even less overall coherence in the pressure pulses when
i /e is variable and large. This is because at the larger
values of i /e the power pulses of the separate hot spots
are no longer uniformly spread, and the heat release is
spiky, leading to instabilities in the reaction zone [23].
In terms of Fig. 8, which is for individual hot spots,
it would appear that strong and stable detonations are
favoured by small (though not zero) values of and .
Within the peninsula, the strong ignition regime is associated with an extended toe of the peninsula, from
about = 8 to about 2 (or even less), with values of
lying between 2 and 7. This is indicated by the horizontal dotted shading in Fig. 8.
It also has been proposed that the product (E/R)(i /e ) provides a gure of merit for the stability of an established detonation [24, 25]. This is on
the ground that, as E/RT increases, because of the sensitivity of i to temperature [see Eq. (14)], the reaction
zone begins to de-couple from the shock front and the
shock velocity drops below the CJ value [26, 27]. In
addition, as i /e increases, as already mentioned, instabilities develop in the reaction zone. Clearly, smaller
values of (E/R)(i /e ) are associated with more stable detonations, and larger values with unstable detonations. From Eqs. (13)(15), it follows that

E i
d ln T
= ()
RT e
The last term is the reciprocal of the reactivity gradient.
The equation shows that there is a relationship between
this proposed gure of merit on the left and the present
criteria for strong ignition and stability, based upon low
values of and associated with the toe of the peninsula in Fig. 8. In this strong ignition regime, with low
values of E/RT and values of close to unity, the detonation front appears at, stable, and one-dimensional.
The transverse waves are strong enough, along with the
triple points, to form a regular cellular pattern [27, 28].
However, these transverse waves have no signicant role
in the propagation, which depends upon the main shock

Turbulent Deflagrations, Autoignitions, and Detonations

front [29]. Strong ignition and stability also are associated with overlapping of individual power pulses at
small values of i /e , thus, contributing to the overall
In addition to the problems of tracing the birth of a
detonation, there are problems of identifying whether it
might survive or perish. Strong ignitions are the more
likely to preserve their integrity and survive. Weak ignitions are more likely to disintegrate, with decoupling
of the reaction zone from the shock. Any venting of
the gases behind the shock front will tend to reduce the
pressure and the gas velocity ahead of the ame front
that drives the shock. If the venting is initiated with a
limiting mixture, with ut /ul = (ut /ul )m , the detonation
will fail. If it is not a limiting mixture, the ame might
accelerate back to its original speed that was capable of
inducing autoignition. As already described, the structure of the transverse waves is a factor in maintaining
the detonation.
There have been few studies on whether an established detonation can survive sideways and upwards
venting. Radulescu and Lee [29] have contributed one
of the few studies in this area. They used a Shchelkin
spiral in a duct for rapid creation of a sustained detonation. This detonation propagated into a length of
the duct with porous walls. The propagation velocity
decreased when it reached this part of the duct. Although transverse waves tended to stabilise the detonation, they were unable to overcome the losses due to
the mass divergence into the wall, leading to a curved
shock front. Unstable detonations were found to propagate over shorter distances than stable ones, before
they eventually failed. Of course, the higher the maximum turbulent burning velocity, the more potential
compensation there can be for wall venting and pressure
drop. Another cause of detonation failure is a reduction in mixture reactivity as the propagation proceeds,
through changes in the equivalence ratio of the mixture
in the direction of propagation. Decreases in ul /a1 and
ul L/, associated with a fall in ul , would tend to decrease (p2 /p1 )m and (T2 /T1 )m , rendering autoignition
more dicult. In addition, although would decrease,
the increase in would probably be more signicant.
Kessler et al. [30] have numerically simulated the
progress of detonations in which the gradients of equivalence ratio were perpendicular to the direction of propagation. The computations traced the collisions between triple points and transverse waves. At high values
of E/R, signicant temperature uctuations developed
across the induction zone, which broadened until the
reaction zone decoupled from the leading shock and the
detonation failed. At low values of E/R, all the detonations survived. Triple point reections and collisions


played a crucial role in determining not only the shape

of the detonation wave, but also the propagation speed
and, for high values of E/R, the quenching behaviour.
With regard to the gradients of the equivalence ratio,
it was nevertheless possible, at high values of E/R, for
a detonation to survive and propagate through a mixture of which a signicant proportion was insuciently
reactive to support a detonation on its own.
Another important practical issue requiring further
work is the extent to which a fully developed conned
detonation might continue to propagate through the
same mixture, but outside the connement. This is relevant to various industrial hazards, such as the Bunceeld explosion in UK [31, 32].

A simple one-dimensional analysis relates the pressure and temperature ratios across the leading shock,
ahead of a turbulent ame in a duct, to the turbulent burning velocity normalised by the speed of sound
ahead of the shock. A feedback mechanism causes the
ame to accelerate initially, but the turbulent burning
velocity can reach a maximum value due to the onset
of localised extinctions, a consequence of the increasing
ame stretch rate. It has been shown that the plateau
of burning velocity values close to the maximum value is
attained when the probability of an initially established
explosion ame continuing to propagate is close to 0.8.
This maximum value of the turbulent burning velocity
for a given mixture determines the maximum pressure
and temperature ratios at the shock front. The way
the autoignition delay times vary with these determines
whether autoignition will occur and, with it, a possible
The limiting mixtures for autoignition are those
that just autoignite at the maximum pressure and
temperature ratios. More reactive mixtures will autoignite at lower ratios and at turbulent burning velocities smaller than the maximum value. The onedimensional analysis provides a useful guide to the probability of autoignition, although its accuracy is limited
by the availability of burning and autoignition data for
various mixtures.
In practice, autoignition does not occur uniformly,
but at hot spots, and the circumstances of this process inuence the onset of any detonation. Between
the regimes of very high burning velocities and of developed detonations is an important regime of quasidetonations. The conditions governing the development
of a detonation and its stability, or otherwise, have been
identied and discussed. Finally, these have been re-


Bradley et al.

lated to the circumstance under which a developed detonation might be quenched.

The authors acknowledge with gratitude the help
they have received from discussions with Elaine Oran,
Slava Babkin, and Gary Sharpe.

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