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Lehrstuhl A für Thermodynamik, Technische Universität München
85748 Garching, Germany


R. MONTI, Ansaldo-Genoa; T. KANZLEITER, Battelle-Eschborn


In the case of a hypothetical severe accident, a significant amount of hydrogen can be

released. Mixed with the ambient air, the resulting explosive mixture can significantly
endanger the containment integrity. Due to the complex physical processes at
combustion phenomena and due to the large geometry of a reactor containment, the
propagating of the flame and the resulting pressure load cannot be simulated with
sufficient accuracy by now. One aim of the presented projects, which were performed
within the fourth frame-work of the European Community, was to improve combustion
models implemented into system codes, which are the state of the art for the simulation
of severe accidents at real scale geometries with long transients. Within this paper,
selected results in the field of turbulent flame propagation are pointed out. A
correlation for both, turbulent flame acceleration and flame quenching at very high
turbulence intensities, for lean hydrogen-air mixtures will be given. Due to the high
accuracy of the performed optical measurements of both, the turbulent flow-field
directly in front of the flame, as well as the development and the structure of the flame
itself, the results of the experiments are currently also used to improve CFD models to
simulate turbulent combustion phenomena.


Due to the density gradient between the hot burned and the cold unburned gas an
expansion flow in front of the flame is created. By the interaction with obstacles in the path of
the flame, like grids, tubes, or walls with openings, this expansion flow can become highly
turbulent, even at low hydrogen concentrations. Since Damköhler [1] it is known, that large
scale eddies tend to bend the flame and, thereby, increase the effective flame surface, which
results in an acceleration of the flame. On the other hand, small scale eddies increase the heat
and mass transfer within the preheating zone of the flame, which results in a thickening of the
reaction zone and a higher reaction rate [2]. Nevertheless, at a very high level of turbulence,
the gas fluctuations in the preheating zone cool the flame, which can lead to local flame
quenching effects or even to a total extinction of the flame.
One aim of the two projects, namely the "Improved Modelling of Turbulent Hydrogen
Combustion and Catalytical Recombination" and the "Validation of a Simulation
Methodology for Hydrogen Mixing, Catalytic Recombination and Deliberate Combustion",
was the experimental and numerical investigation of combustion phenomena at lean hydrogen-
air mixtures.
In the first stage a comparison of two existing combustion models, which are
implemented into the system codes MELCOR and COCOSYS was performed at two real
scaled PWR containments. Furthermore, the combustion model of the COCOSYS code was
improved, by taking advantage of experiments on turbulent combustion, which were
performed at three facilities of different scales. For the detailed investigation of the chemical
and physical processed, advanced laser-optical measurement techniques were applied.
Within this paper, not the entire experimental and numerical program of the two
projects, mentioned above, can be introduced, due to the limitation in space. Therefore,
emphasis is put on two phenomena, namely the acceleration and quenching of hydrogen-air
flames at high turbulence intensities. Those high turbulence intensities usually occur already at
very lean mixtures at the connection between two rooms by, e.g., a door or a window opening
and is usually referred to as jet-ignition.


The experiments were performed at two different scaled facilities, namely the larger
scaled L.VIEW-facility at the University of Pisa (6 77 x 6 77 x 3200mm) and the smaller
scaled PuFlaG- facility (d = 72 mm, l = 8m) at the Technical University of Munich. Both
facilities consist of two chambers, which are divided by a wall with a central orifice,
simulating an opening between two rooms. Using different insets, the diameter of the orifice
can be varied. Before ignition, both chambers are filled with the same hydrogen-air mixture. A
more detailed description of the facilities can be found in [3] or [4].

Optical measurement techniques

For the investigation of turbulent combustion processes, both, the chemical reaction as
well as the turbulent flow field in front of the flame have to be determined with a high
accuracy in time and in space. Therefore, optical measurement techniques are often used as
they work inertialess and non-intrusively. Nevertheless, to investigate turbulent combustion
processes, a combination of several measurement techniques is needed. Within this program,
the flame propagation at the large scale experiments was recorded by means of an intensified
high-speed video-camera simultaneously with the measurement of the turbulent flow-field
directly in front of the flame by means of a Laser-Doppler-Velocimeter. In the small scale
experiments, the flame propagation was visualised by means of the Schlieren-technique. The
detailed flame-structure and the characteristic size of the eddies in the area of flame quenching
was determined by means of the Laser-induced Predissociation-Fluorescence.

High-speed video-records
A digital high-speed video-camera was used for the recording of the flame
propagation. For the present investigations a maximum repetition rate of 9.000 images/s was
used. As the light of the combustion process is to weak to be detected by the camera, a two
stage image intensifier consisting of a Multiple-Channel-Plate and an Inverter-Diode was
adapted to the system.

With the Schlieren-technique, the integral density gradient through the depth of the test
section was visualised. In combination with the high-speed video-camera mentioned above,
the flame propagation and the global structure of the flame was determined at the small scale

The measurement of the flow velocity and the turbulence in front of the flame was
performed by means of the Laser-Doppler-Velocimetry. With this technique, the velocity of
tracer particles, which have to be added to the flow, can be determined in a measurement
volume with a repetition-rate of several Kiloherz in two dimensions simultaneously. As tracer
particles, aerosols of a NaCl-solution with a mean diameter of 2.2 µm were used, which
ensure a high tracking ability.

Laser-induced Predissociation-Fluorescence:
By this technique, selected radicals (e.g. OH) are excited by a high energy excimer-
laser, within a two-dimensional light-sheet with a thickness of 0.3 mm, with an exposure time
of 20 ns. The answering signal of the radicals can be detected by means of an intensified
CCD-camera perpendicular to the excitation. As the Laser-induced Predissociation-
Fluorescence is species specific and the intensity of the scattered light is many orders of
magnitudes stronger than those achieved by other light-scattering techniques (e.g. Raman-
spectroscopy), it is a very important tool for flame diagnostics.


In Fig. 1, a representative experiment, which was performed at the L.VIEW-facility at

a hydrogen concentration of 10.6 Vol.% and a blockage ratio (BR = blocked cross-section to
entire cross-section) of 0.992, is shown. After the ignition in the left bottom corner of the first
chamber, the flame burns under laminar conditions. As soon as it comes to the influence of the
obstacle, it is highly accelerated. When the flame passes the orifice, the high turbulence
intensities in the turbulent jet lead to quenching effects, resulting in an extinction of the flame
in the second chamber behind the orifice. Nevertheless, after a delay time of 0.38s the gas in
the second chamber is ignited. The exact ignition delay as well as the resulting high flame
velocities, which are shown in Fig. 1, were measured by means of the intensified high-speed
video-camera. Depending on the hydrogen concentration and the blockage ratio, different
combustion regimes in the second chamber, namely direct ignition, ignition after a certain
ignition delay (up to 1s), and flame quenching without re-ignition in the second chamber can
be identified.
The maximum pressure loads, which were measured inside the second chamber of the
L.VIEW facility (Fig. 2) are, of course, depending on the hydrogen concentration.
Furthermore, with increasing blockage ratio of the obstacle the velocity of the jet increases,
which can lead to a quenching of the flame (e.g. 11 Vol.% H2, BR = 0.988) when it passes the
obstacle for the first time, followed by an ignition after a delay, as shown in Fig. 1.


ignition rupture disk 0.2 s 0.44 s

front view

0.38 s

flame reaches orifice: 0.52 s ignition in the 2nd chamber: 0.9 s


0.902 s 0.906 s

0.910 s 0.922 s

Fig. 1: Representative experiment on jet ignition at the L.VIEW-facility with a hydrogen

concentration of 10.6 Vol.% and an orifice diameter of 70 mm. After the flame reaches the
orifice, it is quenched for 0.38 s, before the ignition in the second chamber takes place.
As the rupture disk,
which closes the facili-
ty at the right side at
the beginning of the
experiment (see Fig. 1),
usually breaks, before
the flame reaches the
obstacle, unburned gas
of the first chamber is
replaced by hot com-
bustion products, which
are blown through the
orifice. After ignition,
the leaner mixture in
the second chamber,
Fig. 2 Pressure in the 2nd chamber of the L.VIEW-facility at vari-
ous hydrogen concentrations and different orifice diameters. compared to the direct
ignition leads to a
decreasing pressure release. At blockage ratios higher than 0.992, the flame can also be
extinguished totally without any re-ignition in the second chamber at all (in Fig. 2 this is
indicated by a pressure of 0mbar).


Flame quenching
In the literature, the flame quenching at high blocking ratios is discussed by a number
of authors (e.g. [2], [5], [6]). Regarding to Abdel-Gayed et al. [6] flame quenching takes place,
when the product of the Karlovitz flame stretch factor Ka times the Lewis-number Le exceeds
a value of 1.5. The Lewis-number, which is defined as the ratio between the thermal and the
molecular diffusivity, of lean hydrogen-air flames can be regarded to have a constant value of
approximately 0.35 [2]. The Karlovitz flame stretch factor is not easy to determine, therefore
the critera of Abdel-Gayed has to be transformed, taking advantage of the correlations listed in
0 .5
u 'rms1.5 æ ν ö
0.157 ç Le > 1.5 critera 1
sl 2 è L

The fluiddynamical parameters of this criteria were determined by means of laser-optical

measurement techniques. The turbulence intensity u'rms was measured directly in front of the
flame in the quenching area by means of the Laser-Doppler-Velocimeter. The integral length
scale of the flow field was measured by the visualisation of the two-dimensional OH-radical
distribution, as it is shown in Fig. 3. With this technique it was possible to determine the
characteristical size of eddies, which corresponds to the integral length scale, to approximately
1/4 of the orifice diameter. The laminar flame velocity sl was taken out of the literature [7].
In Fig. 4, the product of Ka and Le is plotted over the
hydrogen concentration. The difference in the value
of Ka*Le at the same gas-composition derives from
the usage of various orifice diameters. The area of
direct ignition in the second chamber is separated
from the areas of ignition after a delay (where the
flame is also quenched when it passes the obstacle
for the first time) and flame extinction without
ignition at all. Nevertheless, the flame quenching
Fig. 3: Characteristic eddy-size in takes place at Ka*Le>0.9 which is clearly below the
the area of flame quenching (LIPF). value which was suggested by Abdel-gayed et al..
This can be explained by the fact that the criteria of
Abdel-Gayed was derived from measurements in a homogenious1 and isotropic2 turbulent
flow-field. In the case of a turbulent jet, this assumption can be expected at the earliest 40-50
orifice diameters behind the opening [8].
Out of the criteria 1 it can be
derived that Ka*Le increases at
higher turbulence intensities,
which are increasing with the
flow velocity and thus with the
hydrogen concentration. On the
other side an increasing
hydrogen concentration leads to
an increasing laminar burning
velocity which makes flame
quenching more unlikely. Due
to the maximum design pressure
load of the L.VIEW-facility no
Fig. 4: Product of Ka and Le for various hydrogen tests could be carried out at
concentrations at the L.VIEW-facility.
hydrogen concentrations above
11 Vol.%, additional experi-
ments were performed at the PuFlaG-faclity with hydrogen concentrations up to 14 Vol.% at
blockage ratios between 0.996 ≤ BR ≤ 0.96. In the graph in Fig. 5, areas of jet-ignition and
total flame extinction are plotted as a function of the hydrogen concentration and the blockage
ratio. With the exception of the smallest investigated orifice (BR = 0.996), the flames pass the
obstacle as long as the hydrogen concentration is low, similar to the large scale experiments.
At higher hydrogen concentrations and high blockage ratios, the flame extinguishes without
any re-ignition behind the orifice, as it was also observed at the large scale experiments.
However, a further increase of the hydrogen concentration leads, due to the increasing laminar
burning velocity, which dominates over the higher turbulence intensity, again to an ignition
inside the second chamber.
At a homogeneous flow-field the statistical values of the turbulent flow are independent from the location.
At an isotropic flow-field the turbulence intensities have the same value in each direction.
In general, the flame
quenching in the
smaller facility takes
place at lower
hydrogen concen-
trations as at the
larger facility. The
reason for this can
be found in the
smaller integral len-
gth scale which is an
important parameter
for flame quenching,
as indicated in the
Fig. 5: Jet ignition and flame extinction at the PuFlaG-facility. criteria 1.

Turbulent burning velocity in the second chamber

The turbulent flame acceleration has been investigated by many authors (e.g. [9], [10],
[11]). A correlation between selected turbulence parameters and the turbulent burning
velocity, derived for conditions as they are expected during a hypothetical severe accident,
was suggested by Beauvais [12].

é æ u ' rms ö ù
st L æç u ' rms ö
= 1+ b ê + 1 − 1÷ − 0.026 Le ç ÷
eq. 2
sl ê δl ç sl ÷ ç s ÷
êë è ø è l ø

In this equation the scale of the combustion chamber is taken into account by the dependency
of the integral Length scale L. Due to the high turbulence intensities, which were measured in
front of the flame in the middle of the second chamber at the L.VIEW-facility, local
quenching effects have to be expected, as it is described by Griffiths and Barnard [2]. In the
correlation of Beauvais, those quenching effects are taken into consideration in a quenching
term as a function of (u’rms² ).
The turbulence intensity directly in front of the flame in the middle of the second
chamber could be measured by means of the applied LDV-system, simultaneously with the
measurement of the flame velocity by means of the intensified high-speed video-camera.
Nevertheless, due to the irregular structure of flame, the integral length scale L could not be
determined. Therefore, data out of the literature was used. Lindstedt et al. [10] determined the
integral length scale behind a plate having a blockage ratio of 50% during the combustion
process of a stoichiometric methane-air flame, which has a very regular structure. Out of the
ensemble average of a large amount of experiments, they determined the integral length scale
to have a value of 0.125 times the hydraulic chamber diameter.
In Fig. 6 the comparison
between the measured
turbulent burning velocity in
the middle of the second
chamber in the case of a direct
ignition without delay and the
correlation of Beauvais is
shown. Therefore, the turbu-
lent burning velocity of the
experiments was determined
by subtracting the velocity of
the expansion flow, measured
by the LDV-system, from the
Fig. 6: Comparison between the measured turbulent integral flame propagation ve-
burning velocity at the L.VIEW-facility at direct ignition locity, measured by means of
in the second chamber and correlation of Beauvais [12]. the high-speed video-camera.

The good agreement between the measured and calculated could be achieved by
adapting the correlation factor b to the value of b = 0.53. With the same value of b, also a
good agreement could be found with the data of other authors (e.g. [6], [11]).
In the case of an ignition delay, as shown in the example in Fig. 1, the resulting high
flame velocity cannot only be explained by the high turbulence intensity. During the ignition
delay, burned gas is blown through the orifice, where it is mixed with the unburned gas.
Together with the burned gas, also free radicals and atoms, which are not totally recombined
behind the flame, are mixed with the unburned gas. After the ignition in the second chamber,
this leads to a decrease of the chemical induction time and therefore an increasing burning
velocity. This flame accelerating mechanism by radicals in a burned jet has been investigated
in detail by Oppenheim et al. [14], [15]. In the present case, the rupture disk, which closes the
facility at the right hand side before ignition, is usually broken, when the flame reaches the
orifice. Therefore, unburned gas is blown out of the combustion chamber before ignition,
which leads to a leaner mixture containing less energy. Although the flame velocity reaches
high values (e.g. 50 m/s for a 10 Vol.% hydrogen-air mixture after an ignition delay of 0.38s),
the resulting pressure loads are lower than those at the direct ignition of the second chamber,
as it is shown in Fig. 2.

Structure of the flame:

The flame structure was visualised by measuring the two-dimensional OH-radical
distribution in the PuFlaG-facility by means of the Laser-induced predissociation-
Fluorescence. Due to the low repetition rate of the used excimer-laser, the images are taken at
different experiments with the same initial conditions. Already in the first chamber, the flame
has a very irregular structure, with high reactivity at the cusps of the appearing crests and
flame quenching at the negatively curved sections (see Fig. 7). Mainly responsible for this
behavior is the relatively low Lewis-number of the mixture, as the result of a high molecular
diffusivity compared
to the thermal
diffusivity. A larger
curverture to the
unburned mixture
enables more
hydrogen molecules
to diffuse into the
preheating zone of the
Fig. 7: Flame structure (OH-radical distribution) during ignition flame which enhances
and combustion in the second chamber. the chemical reaction.
The fact that the
flame is totally quenched on the main axis of the chamber is referred to in the literature as the
“tulip-flame-phenomena” [18]. The reason for this behavior can be found in the Darrieus-
Landau- and Taylor-instabilities as well as the low Lewis-number of the mixture.
At the direct ignition in the second
chamber, an area of similar
thermodynamical and chemical
conditions is formed on the jet-axis,
which enables the mixture to ignite at
several flame kernels at the same time.
At a later stage, the leading flame
contour, which could be observed during
the combustion in the first chamber, is
replaced by a volumetric reaction. This
corresponds to the classification of
different combustion regimes, which was
suggested by Borghi [17]. By applying
the parameters mentioned above, the
combustion in the second chamber at the
direct ignition can be located within the
regime of the perfectly stirred reactor, at
Fig. 8: Classification of the combustion in the
Damköhler numbers (as the ratio between
second chamber according to Borghi [17].
the chemical time scale and life time of
the large eddies), slightly lower than unity.


Within the frame of a program investigating the combustion of lean hydrogen-air

mixtures experimentally and numerically experiments were performed at highly blocking
obstacles substituting an opening between two rooms. The investigations have shown, that an
extinction of hydrogen flame in the jet area has to be expected even at concentrations much
higher than the flameability limit of the mixture. A critera for the flame quenching, depending
on the mixture composition, the turbulence intensity and the integral length scale could be
The measured burning velocity at the direct ignition behind the obstacle corresponds
well to the model for the calculation of the turbulent burning velocity suggested by Beauvais
However, at some configurations, where the flame was quenched, an ignition in the
second chamber could be observed after a certain delay time. The flame velocities after the
ignition delay were much higher as expected. This could be explained by small amounts of
radicals, which were produced during the combustion in the first chamber and transported
through the orifice during the ignition delay. Mixed with the unburned gas, those radicals
decrease the chemical induction time of the mixture which results in a higher burning velocity.


It is gratefully acknowledged, that the work presented in this paper has been supported
by the European Commission.


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