Flame acceleration and the transition to detonation of stoichiometric ethylene/oxygen in microscale tubes

Ming Hsun Wu, M. P. Burke, S. F. Son, R. A. Yetter

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

155 Scopus citations


Flame propagation in capillary tubes with smooth circular cross-sections and diameters of 0.5, 1.0, and 2.0 mm are investigated using high-speed photography. Flames were found to propagate and accelerate to detonation speed in stoichiometric ethylene and oxygen mixtures initially at room temperature in all three tube diameters. Ignition occurs at the midpoint along the length of the tube. We observe for the first time transition to detonation in micro-tubes. Detonation was observed with both spark and hot-wire ignition. Tubes with larger diameters take longer to transition to detonation. In fact, transition distance scales with the diameter in our 1.0 and 2.0 mm cases with spark ignition. Flame structures are observed for various stages of the process. Three types of flame propagation modes were observed in the 0.5 mm tube with spark ignition: (a) acceleration to Chapman-Jouguet (CJ) detonation speed followed by constant CJ wave propagation, (b) acceleration to CJ speed, followed by the detonation wave failure, and (c) flame acceleration to a constant speed below the CJ speed of approximately 1600 m/s. The current detonation mechanism observed in capillary tubes is applicable to predetonators for pulsed detonation, micro propulsion devices, safety issues, and addresses fundamental issues raised by recent theoretical and numerical analyses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2429-2436
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of the Combustion Institute
Volume31 II
StatePublished - 2007
Event31st International Symposium on Combustion - Heidelberg, Germany
Duration: Aug 5 2006Aug 11 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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