Welcome to the new version of CaltechAUTHORS. Login is currently restricted to library staff. If you notice any issues, please email coda@library.caltech.edu
Published March 2009 | public
Journal Article

Detonation diffraction in gases


We have experimentally investigated detonation diffraction out of a round tube into an unconfined half-space. The focus of our study is examining how the extent of detonation cellular instability influences the quantitative and qualitative features of diffraction. Detailed quantitative and qualitative measurements were obtained through simultaneous schlieren imaging, multiple-exposure chemiluminescence imaging, and planar laser-induced fluorescence imaging of OH molecules. Two types of stoichiometric mixtures, highly diluted H_2–O_2–Ar and H_2–N_2O, were studied in the sub-critical, critical and super-critical regime. These mixture types represent extreme cases in the classification of cellular instability with highly diluted H_2–O_2–Ar mixtures having very regular instability structures and H_2–N_2O having very irregular instability structures. The most striking differences between the mixtures occur in the sub-critical and critical regimes, for which the detonation fails to transition into the unconfined half-space. For the H_2–O_2–Ar mixture, the velocity on the center line was found to decay significantly slower than for the H_2–N_2O mixture. In case of the H_2–O_2–Ar mixture, it was evident from simultaneous schlieren-fluorescence images that the reaction front was coupled to the lead shock front up to 2.3 tube diameters from the exit plane. For the H_2–N_2O mixture, the reaction front velocity decreased to 60% of the corresponding Chapman–Jouguet value at 1.1 tube diameters from the tube exit plane. A geometric acoustic model showed that the observed differences in failure patterns are not caused by the differences in thermodynamic properties of the two mixtures but is linked to the larger effective activation energy and critical decay time in the H_2–N_2O mixture as compared to the H_2–O_2–Ar mixture. The re-initiation events appear similar for the two mixtures and are a consequence of local fluctuations at random locations within the region between the lead shock and decoupled reaction zone, resulting in strong transverse detonations sweeping through shocked but largely unreacted gas.

Additional Information

© 2008 The Combustion Institute. Received 2 June 2008; revised 11 September 2008; accepted 12 September 2008. Available online 17 October 2008. This work was supported by the US DOE, NNSA through the Caltech ASC Alliance Program, Center for Simulation of Dynamic Response of Materials under U.S. Department of Energy contract W-7405-ENG-48 and also the Office of Naval Research Grants Pulse Detonation Engines: Initiation, Propagation and Performance and Multidisciplinary Study of Pulse Detonation Engines. We thank Princeton Instruments for the loan of the ICCD camera used to take the multiple exposure chemiluminescence images.

Additional details

August 20, 2023
October 19, 2023