Combustion Theory

It is stating the obvious that Combustion Theory is the use of theoretical methods (mathematics, modelling, numerics, etc.) in the study of combustion phenomena. Although some early foundations were laid by Faraday and others in the middle of the 19th century and around the beginning of the 20th century, it was not until the middle of the 20th Century that von Karman and a Russian School, involving Frank-Kamenetskii and Zel'dovich, prepared a sound basis for the theory. Von Karman referred to this as "aerothermochemistry," in which every imaginable physical transport, chemical and thermodynamic process is thrown into the melting pot - a vast field of developing knowledge in Physics, Chemistry, Engineering and Mathematics. The development of systematic asymptotic techiques in Caltech during the 1960s opened the way towards revealing an underlying simplicity in many combustion processes, involving fairly simple mathematical models and solutions. Computers have also made it possible to treat many problems in their fuller, more complicated form.

It can also be stated that Combustion Theory has provided a rich range of equations with fascinating mathematical properties. These include the Sivashinsky equation which approximates the destabilising effect of density change in flames; the Kuramoto-Sivashinsky equation which approximates an anti-diffusive destabilising effect that some flames possess; and Clarke's equation which describes chemical and pressure-wave interactions in a detonable chemical mixture. These equations, and some milestone solutions and dimensionless numbers that have helped to punctuate the growth of this field of research can be spotted in the following artistic impression of "Combustion Theory".

"Fire Writer"

Click on the picture for a detailed
Acrobat PDF version (about 340Kb).

Combustion Theory and Modelling:

There is now a high-quality
quarterly journal dedicated
to theoretical and modelling
aspects of combustion. The
first issue of

Combustion Theory
and Modelling

appeared in March 1997 and
the journal now has the top
impact factor of all combustion

Click on the journal cover for details about CTM and
information on submitting articles, subscriptions etc.

[ Sept, 2005 - - Home page ]