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Effects of unburnt reaction progress on stretch flame dynamics under elevated temperatures

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Combustion and Flame
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Flames in practical combustors and engines are inevitably subject to the effects of upstream chemical reaction progress and stretch, induced by elevated thermodynamic conditions and flow non-uniformities, respectively. Recent shock tube experiments and simulation studies on flame propagation have shown that flame speed under engine-relevant conditions can be enhanced with non-negligible upstream chemical reaction progress, especially when low-temperature heat release is involved in the unburnt mixture. On the other hand, depending on the mixture equivalence ratio and diluents, nonequidiffusion (including the non-unity Lewis number effect and the preferential diffusion effect) can couple with the flame stretch to fundamentally affect the flame propagation, which can manifest as either facilitation or suppression. Depending on the transport property of a reacting mixture, there hence can be either inhibition or promotion from unburnt reaction progress and stretch effects on flame propagation. In the current work, through one-dimensional numerical simulations of transient planar and spherical flames of n-heptane/air under elevated thermodynamic conditions, the combined effects of upstream chemical reaction progress and stretch on flame propagation are investigated. Results show that for both lean and rich n-heptane/air mixtures, flame speed can be substantially promoted with reaction progress, while the rich mixtures can exhibit opposite stretch dependence after first-stage ignition. Different definitions of effective Lewis number are adopted to explain the change in Markstein length for spherical flame in lean and rich mixtures reformed by the low temperature chemistry. This work fills an important gap in laminar premixed flame research relevant to practical combustion systems and can provide useful insight into local turbulent flame behaviors and phi-sensitivity in engine combustion.