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Premixed, Nonpremixed and

Partially Premixed Flames

Flame Flame Flame
(Reaction Zone) (Reaction Zone) (Reaction Zone)

Fuel Fuel Air
Air + Air
Fuel + Air (+ F?)
φ≤1 φ>1


(Local Quenching) (Incomplete Mixing) PREMIXED
Diffusion Flames

Video images of ethane jet diffusion

flames in quiescent air in 1g and µg. Computed Images (from 1 to 200
Burner tube inside diameter= 2.87 msec) in terms of temperature field
mm; mean fuel jet velocity=7.5 cm/sec. (contours) of a propagating edge
Takahashi and Katta: Proc. Combust. Inst., Vol. diffusion flame in an ethane jet in
29, 2002, pp. 2509-2518. quasi-quiescent air in 0g. Burner
tube diameter= 3 mm; mean fuel jet
velocity=6.86 cm/sec.
Flame Images

Propane torch diffusion
Premixed Flame Images

LPG (liquified petroleum gas)-air

premixed flames for different φ and
inlet velocity in a diverging channel
Akram et al. Energy & Fuels, 2012, 26,
Bunsen Burner Methane-Air
Premixed Flame
Flame Images

Propagating premixed
flame in SI engine
Partially Premixed Flame


Rich premixed zone Non-premixed zone

Combustion **

* P. Berta, S. Aggarwal, I. Puri. Combustion and Flame. 145 (2006) 740-764

** Quasi-steady Diesel combustion plume as presented by DEC (1997).
Flame Images: Partially Premixed (Double) Flames

Partially Premixed Flames Established on a

Slot Burner



φ = 1.4 φ = 1.6 φ = 1.7 φ = 1.9

RP Vin = 30cms-1 Vin = 30cms-1 Vin = 30cms-1 Vin = 30cms-1
Vout = 30cms-1 Vout = 30cms-1 Vout = 30cms-1 Vout = 30cms-1

Le≈1 Le<1
Nonpremixed and Partially Premixed (Double) Flames
Flames Established in a Counterflow Burner
strain rate 50 s -1
φ = 10


φ = 3.5

φ = 2.5

N-Heptane PPFs showing the double flame

Image of syngas (50%H2-50%CO) /air structure: characteristic of non-premixed and
nonpremixed flame established at premixed reaction zones. The fuel enters at
p=1atm, strain rate as = 65s-1. the bottom and the oxidizer at the top.
A Schematic of Premixed Flame Structure

Henry A. Becker, "Flame," in AccessScience, ©McGraw-Hill Companies, 2008,

Burner Stabilized Premixed H2-O2-N2 Flame

Species profiles in a burner-stabilized flame of a mixture with H2 = 18.8%, O2 =

4.6%, and N2 = 76.6% at 1 atm. Symbols represent experimental data from Dixon-
Lewis et al., solid lines: present model; dashed lines: model of Li et al.

Burke et al. Int. J. Chemical Kinetics (2011)

Counterflow N-heptane-air Premixed Flame
Temperature and velocity

2500 300
Stagnation plane


v (cm)
T (K)

1000 V(cm/s)


0 -300
0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8 0.9 1
Distance from the nozzle (cm)

Φ=0.8, inlet velocity v=70cm/s, inlet temperature T0=400K,

distance between the two nozzles d=1cm.

Stretched flame speed=62 cm/s

Flame thickness=0.8 mm
Counterflow N-heptane-air Premixed Flame
Fuel, oxidizer, and products


n-heptane * 10
Mole fraction

0.1 H2 * 10

0.05 CO2

0 0.05 0.1 0.15 0.2 0.25 0.3 0.35 0.4 0.45 0.5
Distance from the nozzle (cm)

Φ=0.8, inlet velocity v=70cm/s, inlet temperature T0=400K,

distance between the two nozzles d=1cm.
Laminar Premixed Flames
Refs: Turns (Chapter 8), Law (Chapter 7), Kuo (Chapter 5)

•  Introduction
•  Scale analysis for laminar flame speed and flame thickness
•  Simplified analysis due to Spalding
•  Detailed analysis; numerical solution
•  Effects of important parameters on the flame speed and
•  Counterflow flames
•  Partially Premixed Flames
Laminar Premixed Flames
Ø  In premixed flames, the reaction zone separates the reactants (i.e. a mixture of fuel
and oxidizer that are mixed at the molecular level) and products.
Ø  Safety is a major concern for premixed flames. Consequently, such flames are not
as common as the nonpremixed and partially premixed flames. Nevertheless, they
are still very important in numerous combustion systems. Examples include:
§  Gas turbine combustors using lean premixed combustion
§  Spark ignition engines
§  Fires in coal mines
§  Numerous other systems, such as residential burners, furnaces, diesel engines,
rocket engines in which the combustion is characterized by a partially premixed
flame containing multiple reaction zones
Ø  A premixed flame is characterized by the propagation of a wave. Broadly speaking,
there are two types of combustion waves; detonation waves and deflagration waves.
A detonation wave is a shock wave, which propagates at a supersonic speed,
accompanied by combustion. A deflagration wave or a laminar flame on the other
hand is a relatively low-speed wave, and pressure change across it is negligible.
Laminar Premixed Flames
Ø  A laminar flame is of fundamental importance in most practical systems. Even in
systems that involve nonpremixed flames, the laminar flame speed is important
with regards to flame liftoff and stabilization.
Ø  Commonly used premixed flame configurations for fundamental studies include:
§  Bunsen burner flame
§  Flame stabilized on a flat flame burner
§  Propagating flame in a tube
§  Spherical flames
§  Counterflow premixed flame
§  Flame stabilized on a rod
Ø  This chapter deals with the fundamental aspects of laminar premixed flames. In
particular, we will discuss:
§  Laminar flame speed and flame thickness
§  Flame structure
§  Fundamental analysis of a laminar premixed flame
§  Effects of important parameters
§  Flame stretch and flame stability (advanced topic, not covered)
Laminar Premixed Flames
Laminar flame speed represents a fundamental property of fuel-oxidizer
mixtures. It is defined as the mixture velocity normal to the flame surface. It
provides the mixture burning rate in the flame.

Scale Analysis: Laminar Flame Speed and Thickness

In a 1-D, steady, laminar flame, there is a balance between convection, diffusion and
reaction processes. Then a simple scale (dimensional) analysis can be used to obtain
approx. expressions for laminar flame speed (SL) and thickness (δ).

Conservation of mass: ρ u SL = ω
˙δ Also equating convection and reaction times

Equating thermal diffusion time to reaction time: δ 2 /α ≈ ρ u /ω˙

1/2 1/2 1/2
SL = (ωα / ρu ) = (ω DLe / ρu )  / cp )
= (1 / ρu ) (ωλ
€ 1/ 2
δ = α / SL = ( λ /(c pω˙ ))

•  Laminar premixed flame speed and structure are governed by both the chemical
kinetics and transport.
•  The laminar flame speed is fundamental to the flame shape and stabilization,
including flashback and flame blowout.
•  Laminar flames are also of fundamental importance to turbulent premixed flames.
Laminar Premixed Flames

Bunsen Burner Methane-Air

Premixed Flame

SL = vu,n = vu sin α
It is important to know the laminar flame speed for any given fuel for a range of
equivalence ratios, temperatures, pressures, etc.
Laminar Premixed Flames
Simplified Analysis (Due to Spalding)
∂ρ ∂ ( ρv x )
=− =0
∂t ∂x ρ u SL ρ bU b
ρu SL = ρ bU b
∂ρ i ∂(m˙ %i%)
=− ˙ %i%%= 0
∂t ∂x € T €
˙ "i" = m
m ˙ ""Yi − ρDi (∂Yi /∂x) δr
=0 δd
dx x
Using energy equation as derived in
the Shvab Zeldovich Formulation
T(x → −∞) = Tu
dT d ∂T
 !!c p
m − (λ  i!!!
) = −∑ h 0f ,i m  T(x → ∞) = Tb
dx dx dx
€ dT (x → −∞) = dT (x → +∞) = 0
Two extra boundary conditions for δ and SL
dx dx

Simplified Analysis: Thermal Theory of Spalding
1.  A planar steady, one-dimensional, adiabatic flame, which is either stationary or
propagating at a fixed speed of SL.
2.  p=constant
3.  Constant transport properties. Also constant and equal specific heats, and Le=1.
4.  Three species with a single global reaction. The Spalding analysis provides the
following results:

 !!c p (Tb − Tu ) = −δΔhc m

m  !!!
F Δhc = (ν +1)c p (Tb − Tu )
1/ 2
δ = 2α / SL SL = (−(υ + 1)2α .m˙ %F%% / ρ u )
m !!!F = average  fuel consumption rate / volume

€ air-fuel ratio by mass, α is thermal diffusivity,. These

€ Here ν is the stoichiometric
equations can be used to examine qualitatively the effects of various parameters, such
as pressure, equivalence ratio, fuel type, temperature, diluent, etc.

See Turns: An Introduction to Combustion (pp. 266-287)

Kuo: Principles of Combustion (449-458)
Laminar Premixed Flames
Detailed Analysis and Numerical Solution
•  Detailed analysis of one-dimensional premixed flames: see Kuo, p.
•  Freely propagating premixed flames using Chemkin and Premix: See Kuo,
p. 468-471
•  Counterflow premixed flames using Chemkin and Oppdif.

Flame Stretch and Flame Speed (More advanced course)

•  Introduction to flame stretch
•  Derivation of flame stretch and flame speed in curvilinear coordinated for
this flame.
•  Effect of stretch and Lewis number on flame speed and extinction
•  Effect of stretch and Lewis number on flame stability.
Detailed Analysis:1-D Equations Used in CHEMKIN
dm˙ "" ˙ "" = ρv = C
=0 m
dm˙ "i" dYi d
˙ "i""
˙ ""
( ρYiVd ,i ) = ω˙ i M i
€ € dp
dT d #€ dT & dT
€ ! !!c p
m − % λ ( ∑ i di pi
+ ρY V c = −∑ h 0fiω! i M i
dx dx $ dx ' dx

Boundary conditions:
dT dYi
T(x → −∞) = Tu and Yi (x → −∞) = Yi,o (x → ∞) = (x → ∞) = 0
dx dx
Unknowns:  !! = ρu SL
ρ, v, Yi , T, SL or m
§  Equations for reaction rates using a detailed kinetic mechanism
§  Equations for diffusion velocities, mass diffusivities,
€ specific heats, thermal
conductivity SL.
§  Ideal gas equation to compute density
§  Mass flux or flame speed is an eigenvalue; it is determined as part of the solution.
Laminar Flame Speed and Structure

Laminar Premixed Flames
Effects of Various Parameters on Flame Speed and Thickness
Considering global 1-step reaction

Fuel + υ.Ox ⇒ (1+ υ ). Pr

1/ 2
SL = (−(υ + 1)2α .m˙ %F%% / ρ u ) δ = 2α / SL
ω˙ F = m˙ #F## = −Ae−( E / R u T ) [ F ] [Ox ] M F
[ X ] = ρY / M ρ ≈ pM /T

ω˙ F n−1
€b k Tu
−( E / R u T ) p a α= ≈ (T ) c
≈ Tue n
(YF ) (YOx ) ρc p p
ρu Tb
€ €
SL ≈ (T ) c / 2 Tu (Tb )−n / 2 e−(E / 2R u Tb ) p(n−2)/ 2

δ ≈ (T ) c / 2 (Tb ) n / 2 e(E / 2R u T ) p−n / 2

Effect of Various Parameters
SL ≈ (T ) c / 2 Tu (Tb )−n / 2 e−(E / 2R u Tb ) p(n−2)/ 2 δ ≈ (T ) c / 2 (Tb ) n / 2 e(E / 2R u T ) p−n / 2
•  Global reaction order (n) is often assumed as 2, which implies that SL is
independent of p, and δ decreases with p. Note that the reaction rate increases with
pressure, but the mixture also becomes denser, such that SL is nearly independent
of p.

•  Reaction rate ≈ p2, ==> SL ≈ p0
•  α ≈ 1/p and ρ ≈ p, ==> δ ≈ 1/p
•  Effect of p on δ is mainly due to the fact p increases the reaction rate
•  Actual data indicates that n has a complex variation with p
•  Reaction order varies with pressure due to chemistry effects; for example
diffusion to wall becomes important at low pressures, and 3-body reactions (H
+O2+ M==>HO2+ M) become important at high pressure.
•  Flame temperature may also vary somewhat with pressure due to dissociation
•  Both Tu and Tb have strong influence on SL; SL increases with Tu since Tb ≈ Tu +
Δhc /cp
•  Effect of Tb occurs mainly through the exponential term, as the activation energy is
relatively high.
Effects of Various Parameters
1/ 2
SL = (−(υ + 1)2α .m˙ %F%% / ρ u ) δ = 2α / SL

•  The effect of equivalence ratio (φ) on flame speed and thickness appears
mainly through its effect on Tb, and also through its effect on YF and Yo.
€ €
Thus flame speed and thickness are, respectively maximum and minimum
near φ =1 for hydrocarbon flames.
•  Effect of molecular weight of reactant (M):
•  α ≈ 1/M and ρ ≈ M, ==> SL ≈ 1/M
•  Shifts the peak in SL to richer mixture (φ >1) for lighter fuels, such as
•  Flame speed can also be modified by using diluents, which mainly affect
the specific heat and thereby the flame temperature in the order:
CpCO2>CpN2>CpAr (≈CpHe)
•  Some diluents such as He can also modify the transport property (thermal
conductivity or diffusivity), and molecular weight
Methane-Air Flames

Effect of pressure on the predicted and measured

laminar flame speed and overall reaction order

Som and Aggarwal, CST, Vol. 179 (2007)

N-Heptane-Air Flames

Good agreement between the predicted

and measured laminar flame speeds

Xue and Aggarwal, AIAA Journal, Vol. 40 (2002)

Premixed Flame Speed for Hydrogen-Air Mixture
Computed Using Different Mechanisms

H2/air flames at 1 atm H2/O2/He flames

O2/(O2+He) = 0.125 at 5 atm

O2/(O2 +He) = 0.080 at 15 atm
Briones et al., C&F, Vol. 140 (2005)
Laminar Flame Thickness and Quenching Distance
for Methane-Air Flames

Turns-An Introduction to Combustion

Syngas-Air Flames: Fuel Effect
Measured and predicted laminar burning velocities for syngas-air mixtures

McLean et al. [1994]
a) Mueller et al. Mechanism
Davis et al. Mechanism
Laminar Burning Velocity [cm/s]

180 GRI-3.0 mechanism

150 Flame A: 50%CO - 50%H 2




Flame B: 95%CO - 5%H 2


0 1 2 3 4 5 6
Equivalence Ratio
Variation of laminar burning velocity with
Flame A: 50% CO- 50% H2
volume percent of CO in syngas at φ = 2.0
Flame B: 95% CO- 5% H2

Som et al., Fuel (2008) 319–334

Syngas Flames: Effect of Pressure
Measured and predicted laminar burning velocities for CO-H2-O2-He mixture

95% CO + 5% H2 in (O2 + 7 He) mixture, Tu = 298 K

Curran et al., C&F Vol. 160 (2013)

Premixed NG Flames: Effect of Hydrogen
Laminar Flame Speed: SL° ~ √(D×ωi)
Flame Thickness: δD =D/ SL

•  Flame speed increases

while flame thickness
decreases with H2
•  Peak in burning velocity
occurs at richer

Huang et al., Combust Flame, 2006, Vol. 146

Hydrogen-Air Flames: Effect of Diluents
Measured and predicted laminar burning velocities for H2-O2-Diluent mixtures

He: λ = 0.25 W/m/K

Ar: λ = 0.032

λ SL

Diluents modify mainly the specific heat and thereby the

flame temperature in the order: CpCO2>CpN2>CpAr (≈CpHe)

Qiao et al., C&F Vol. 143 (2005)

Limit Combustion Phenomena
•  Ignition and flame extinction represent limit combustion phenomenon and involve transient
•  Ignition can be defined as the initiation of rapid exothermic reactions leading to the
appearance of a flame in a combustible mixture; it may be caused with an external source such
as an electric spark, or without any external source such as autoignition in a compression
ignition engine.
•  It is of practical interest in numerous applications, including the need to prevent fires and
unwanted explosions, and to initiate controlled combustion in furnaces and engines.
•  Extinction of flames may be achieved in various ways, including the addition of a flame
suppressants (inert or chemical), passing the flame through tubes of small diameter (basis for
flame arrestor design), or blowing the flame away using high gas velocity. It is of interest
from the considerations of fire suppression, and controlling combustion processes in various
propulsion and power generation systems.
•  Flammability limits are generally expressed in terms of mixture compositions (equivalence
ratio or fuel concentration by volume), for fixed temperature and pressure, beyond which a
fuel-air mixture cannot be made to burn.
•  Most of these phenomena are inherently transient. However, we will analyze them from
energy considerations (i.e., heat loss), and discuss the limit behavior, i.e., conditions under
which a flame will extinguish or not, or ignition will occur or not.

Turns, Law, Williams

Minimum Quenching Distance
•  Consider a flame propagating in a tube. If the tube diameter is sufficiently small, it
will cause flame to extinguish. This quenching diameter can be experimentally
determined by observing whether a flame stabilized above the tube does or does not
flashback when the reactant flow is suddenly shutoff.
•  Here we determine a quenching distance (d) by considering a long slot burner of a
given width (L), and using the criterion that rate of heat generation due to chemical
reactions is balanced by the rate of heat loss to by thermal conduction.

! =−m # dT &
QV ! F ΔhcV = −λ A % (
$ dx 'wall δ

Here V=dδL is the gas volume, A=2δL

qcond qcond
! dT $ T −T
# & = w b with b>2
" dx %wall d /b d
Schematic of flame quenching
2 λ b(Tb − Tw ) between two parallel walls
This leads to: d2 =
−m! F Δhc
Minimum Quenching Distance
Using equations for fuel consumption rate and heat of combustion derived earlier, assuming Le-1,
and Tw≈Tu, the above equation becomes:
d = 2α b / SL δ = 2α / SL d= b.δ

These equations provide results that are qualitatively in agreement with experimental data, such
as shown in Fig. 8.16 (Turns), indicating quenching distance to be greater than flame thickness.
See data in Table. Note X values are in percentage.

Flammability Limits
•  Flammability limits are generally expressed in terms of mixture compositions
(equivalence ratio or fuel fraction by volume), for fixed temperature and pressure,
beyond which a fuel-air mixture cannot be made to burn.
•  These limits can be determined experimentally by igniting a fuel-air mixture at one
end of a long tube. If the mixture is within flammability limit, the ignition leads to a
flame propagating in the tube. However, there are equivalence ratios (outside the
flammability limits) that will not lead to propagating flame after the ignition source
is removed. Using a large-diameter tube provides more consistent results.
•  Table shows flammability limits for some fuels, expressed in terms of lean and rich
equivalence ratios (or fuel mole fractions for lean and rich mixtures).
•  These limits are strongly influenced by temperature, pressure, and other conditions,
such as oxygen fraction, and gravity for upward/downward propagating flames.
Figure depicts the effect of gravity on the lower flammability limit. Note that the
fuel-air mixture gets preheated due to hot buoyant gases in case of upward
propagating flame.
Flammability Limits

Turns 760 torrs=1 atm

Flame Stability (Advanced Topic)
§  Flashback
§  When the flame enters and propagates upstream in the burner tube
without quenching
§  Serious safety hazard; flame arresters (such as wire mesh) are
designed to quench flame
§  Liftoff and Blowout
§  For low velocities, the flame is attached, or the flame edge is close
to burner lip. As V is increased, the flame lift off and its liftoff
height increases until the flame blows out (or extinguished).
§  Flame response to stretch
§  Premixed flames characteristics (speed, structure, emission,
instability, etc.) are also strongly influenced by aerodynamic
effects, such as aerodynamic straining, flame curvature and

(1) Turns, (2) Lewis and Von Elbe

Flame Stability: Flashback
Flame stabilized on a vertical tube
•  Flame flashback is a serious safety hazard.
•  It refers to the situation when the flame enters and propagates upstream in the burner
tube without quenching. It occurs as the mixture flow is reduced or turned off. In a
gas appliance, it can potentially ignite a large volume of gas in the mixture, leading
to explosion. A flame arrester (such as wire mesh) is designed to quench flame
propagation by absorbing heat from the flame, and reducing the temperature below
the ignition temperature.
•  Conditions in terms of safe mixture speed for a range of equivalence ratios (φ) for a
given flame can be estimated from the plot of laminar flame speed versus φ.
•  Important parameters for flashback to be essentially the same as those affecting
quenching, e.g., φ, fuel type, mixture velocity, and burner geometry.
•  For example, slightly rich mixtures provide the highest propensity for flashback, and
flashback stability for CH4 is much greater than that of H2-rich fuels.

Textbooks by (1) Turns, (2) Glassman

Flame Stability: Liftoff and Blowout
Flame Stabilized on a vertical tube
•  Flame liftoff generally involves uncontrolled and unsteady combustion, and can lead
to blowout. It is also a safety hazard.
•  It depends strongly on flame and flow properties near the edge of the burner.
•  For low mixture velocities (V), the conical flame is attached, as the flame edge lies
close to burner lip. As V is increased, the flame cone angle decreases, and the flame
edge moves slightly downstream. As V is increased further, the flame jumps to a
downstream location at a critical V, With further increase in V, the liftoff height
increases until the flame blowout.
•  When the flame is attached near the burner rim, the flow velocity in the stabilization
region is relatively low. However, the flame speed (SL) in this region is also low due
to the diffusion of heat and radical species to the rim. As V is increased, the flame
edge moves downstream, which increases SL, since the loss of heat and radical
species is reduced. Thus the flame remains close to the burner. However with further
increase in V causes dilution of the mixture with ambient fluid, which compensates
for the decrease in heat and radical species loss.

(1) Turns, (2) Lewis and Von Elbe

Flashback and Liftoff

Thermo-Diffusive Instability

Lean hydrogen flames: Le<1 ⇒ Flame Lean propane flames: Le>1 ⇒ Flame
speed increases with stretch speed decreases with stretch

Law & Sung, Prog. Energy Combus. Sci. 26, 2000

Partially Premixed (Double) Flames
on a Slot Burner
(Methane/Air) (Propane/Air)


φ = 1.4
RP Vin = 30cms-1 φ = 1.6 φ = 1.7 φ = 1.9
Vout = 30cms-1 Vin = 30cms-1 Vin = 30cms-1 Vin = 30cms-1
Vout = 30cms-1 Vout = 30cms-1 Vout = 30cms-1
Le≈1 •  Flame tip is negatively stretched, and
Lb is positive for rich propane flames
•  Burning rate decreases with stretch
Thermal-Diffusive Instability: H2-C3H8 Blend
Hydrogen (Le<1) Propane (Le>1)

Spherically expanding premixed flames

Law et al., 30th Int Combust Sym, 2005

Flame Liftoff and Blowout

Blowout of methane jet flame using CO2 dilution

Aggarwal, Prog. Energy Combust Sci., 35, 528–570, 2009