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Acoustically Coupled Droplet Combustion and Local Extinction under High Amplitude Excitation


The present experimental study examined the characteristics of liquid ethanol fuel droplet combustion in the presence of high amplitude acoustic excitation, with focus on conditions where high local flame strain can result in the periodic partial extinction and reignition within the flame front in time. These partial extinction phenomena were observed via phase-locked OH* chemiluminescence imaging and identified by the cycle of sudden, severe drop-off in chemiluminescent intensity near the flame stagnation region followed by reignition at the stagnation flame front at a later portion of the acoustic cycle.

For increased excitation levels, the burning rate constant values were higher than those for both baseline quiescent and moderate excitation conditions. The experimental acoustic acceleration values were also higher than those for moderate excitation levels. Furthermore, as observed in past studies, these measurements of acoustic acceleration agreed only qualitatively with predictions from the acoustic radiation force theory. The presence of periodic partial extinction did not alter these expected trends.

The temporal response in flame luminosity to flow perturbations was also analyzed using the Rayleigh index to determine the degree of thermoacoustic coupling inherent in a burning droplet system for given forcing conditions. When partial extinction was absent, the integrated OH* chemiluminescent intensity oscillated nearly in phase with the pressure perturbation. This led to a positive Rayleigh index, indicating unstable combustion, as was observed in previous studies at moderate excitation. However, partial extinction phenomena altered the relationship between measured intensity and pressure perturbations: the intensity oscillated nearly out of phase with the pressure perturbation. This led to a negative Rayleigh index, indicating stable combustion despite clear evidence of thermoacoustic coupling in the combustion footage and in the combustion property trends.

These results indicated that the characterization of thermoacoustic coupling is important to the description of any droplet combustion system undergoing acoustic excitation; however, they also suggested that the Rayleigh index, at least when quantified using OH* chemiluminescence, may not fully capture the nature of thermoacoustic coupling in regimes where partial extinction phenomena occur.

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