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25, 1956, p . 1087. 37 Rosa, R. J., "Shock Wave Spectroscopy," Physical Re-
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515; Nicholls, R. W., Canadan J. Physics, vol. 32, 1954, p . 722. 39 Roth, W. and Gloersen, P., "A Shock Tube Study of
20 Josephson, V., "Production of High-Velocity S h o c k s / ' «/» Luminosity in Xenon," Aerodynamics Laboratory Investiga-
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21 Keck, J., Kivel, B . and Wentink, T., "Emissivity of High Electric, Memo Report P-155. (To be published in J. Chemical
Temperature Air," Avco Research Laboratory, Research Report Physics.)
8, Everett, Mass., April 1957. 40 Russell, G. and Lamb, L., Space Technolog}' Laboratories,
22 Kivel, B., Mayer, H . and Bethe, H., "Radiation from to be published.
H o t Air. P a r t I. Theory of Nitric Oxide Absorption," Annals 41 Russo, A. and Hertzberg, A., "A Method for Improving
of Physics, vol. 2, July 1957, pp. 57-80. the Performance of Shock T u b e s , " J E T PKOPULSION, vol. 27, no.
23 Kivel, B . and Bailey, K., "Tables of Radiation from 11, Nov. 1957, pp. 1191-1195.
High Temperature Air," Avco Research Laboratory, Research 42 Schexnayder, C. J., Jr., "On the Performance of a Double-
Report 21, Everett, Mass., Dec. 1957. Diaphragm Shock Tube Using the Reflected-Shock Method and
24 Logan, J. G., Jr. and Treanor, C. E., "Tables of Thermo- a Light-Gas Buffer," / . Aero/Space Sciences, vol. 25, no. 8, Aug.
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25 Magee, J. L. and Hirschfelder, J. O., "Thermal Radiation 44 Turner, E. B., " T h e Production of Very High Tempera-
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IV, pp. 8, 13, 47. Spectral Line Broadening," AFOSR-TN-56-150, ASTIA Docu-
26 Marmo, F . F., "Absorption Coefficients of NO in the ment no. AD-86309, M a y 1956.
Vacuum Ultraviolet," / . Optical Society of America, vol. 47, 1953, 45 Weber, D., "Approximate Intensity Estimates for Several
pp. 1186-1190. Ultraviolet tf-Bands of N O , " California Institute of Technology,
27 Meverott, R. E., "Absorption Coefficient of Air from Report no. 23, March 1957; Weber, D . and Penner, S. S., Report
2000°K to 18,000°K ; " Rand Corp., Santa Monica, Calif. no. 18, Pasadena, Calif., April 1956.
28 Meyerott, R. E., "Radiation Heat Transfer to Hypersonic 46 Wentink, T., Jr., Planet, W., Hammerling, P. and Kivel,
Vehicles," Lockheed Missile Systems Division Report 2264, 1957. B., "Infrared Continuum Radiation from High Temperature
29 Omori, T. T . and Powell, W. B., "Radiation of Rocket Air," J. Applied Physics, vol. 29, April 1958, pp. 742-743.
Motor Combustion Gases," Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Progress 47 Windsor, M., Davidson, N . and Taylor, R., "A Study of
Report no. 20-166, Pasadena, Jan. 15, 1953. Vibrational Relaxation in Carbon Monoxide by Shock-Waves
30 Palmer, H . B., "Emission and Two-Body Recombination and Infra-Red Emission," Presented at the Seventh Combustion
in Bromine," / . Chemical Physics, vol. 26, 1957, p. 648. Symposium, England, 1958.
31 Pearce, W. J., "Argon Line Shifts in an Argon Stabilized 48 Wolfe, H. C. (ed.), "Temperature—Its Measurement and
Arc," Aerodynamics Laboratory Investigations, Missile and Control in Science and Industry, vol. I I , " Reinhold Publishing
Ordnance Systems Department, General Electric, Dec. 31, 1957. Corp., New York, 1955.
32 Pearce, W. J., "Measurement of Temperature of Arc 49 Wurster, W. H., and Glick, H. S., "Ultraviolet Spectrum
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33 Penner, S. S., "The Emission of Radiation from Diatomic tive Properties of High Temperature Air," Cornell Aeronautical
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34 Penner, S. S., Harshbarger, F . and Vali, V., "An Intro- 51 Yos, Jerrold, "Interpretation of Rotational Temperature
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tion of Rotational Temperatures and Concentrations of OH in 1, no. 2, July 15, 1958, pp. 58-59.

The Ignition of Combustible Mixtures by Hot Gases


H. G. WOLFHARD2
B u r e a u of M i n e s , U. S. D e p a r t m e n t of t h e I n t e r i o r , P i t t s b u r g h , P a .

F u e l - a i r m i x t u r e s a r e i g n i t e d b y a j e t of h o t g a s w h i c h is m i n o u s r e a c t i o n s c a n b e seen t o o c c u r i n t h e c e n t e r of t h e
h e a t e d i n a c e r a m i c f u r n a c e . T h e i g n i t i n g g a s is c o n - h o t j e t if i t s i n i t i a l t e m p e r a t u r e a p p r o a c h e s a c r i t i c a l
t i n u o u s l y i n j e c t e d i n t o t h e cold explosive m i x t u r e . Lu- t e m p e r a t u r e . O n f u r t h e r r a i s i n g t h e t e m p e r a t u r e of t h e
098-038. Reproduction in full or in part is permitted for any
Received March 5, 1958. use of the U. S. Government.
1 2
Sponsored in part by Project Squid, which is supported by Research Scientist, Div. of Explosives Technology. Member
the Office of Naval Research under Contract Nonr 1858(25), NR- ARS.

798 J E T PROPULSION
jet, the luminosity increases and a laminar luminous pen- Light asbestos top

cil extends up to 30 cm above the furnace exit. A flame


can then be seen to originate from the top of this column
and propagate into the cold mixture outside. Two types
of experiments are performed: The ignition of cold fuel-
air mixtures by hot neutral gases, such as nitrogen or car-
bon dioxide; and the ignition of cold fuel by hot air. In
the second case only a diffusion flame can be ignited which,
under favorable conditions, floats on top of the hot air jet.
These "hot gas ignition temperatures" bear little relation
to the "spontaneous ignition temperatures."

Introduction

T HE ignition of combustible mixtures by hot burned


gases from flames is of importance in many appliances,
such as ramjet burners or rocket combustion chambers. In
the ignition of methane-nitric oxide mixtures by pilot flames, it
was found (l) 3 that the size and temperature of the pilot Inlet for explosive mixture

flame determined ignition. For small pilot flames (volume


h^
flow of the order of a few cc/sec), the parameter responsible
for ignition was the energy flow of the flame (cal/sec), whereas
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for large flames, ignition became independent of flame size


and was determined by a minimum temperature of the flame
(the requirement being expressed in cal/cc). Intermediate Fig. 1 Experimental arrangement
pilot sizes had to be characterized by both energy and tem-
perature statements for ignition of the surrounding mixture.
It was first proposed to extend this investigation by burning
pilot flames in hydrocarbon-air mixtures. However, both
Position of thermocouple
extremely small and larger but highly dilute, i.e., cooler, pilot Inner tube, wound with platinum wire

flames invariably led to ignition, and minimum conditions for Protecting tube, sealed to inner tube
ignition could not be investigated in an apparatus allowing with sintered ceramic powder

only relatively small flow rates. It was necessary therefore to Two ceramic tubes.for insulation, sealed
heat gases in a furnace, and then lead them into explosive to inner tubes with sintered ceramic powder
( sealed only on top to allow for expansion )
mixtures. It is difficult to heat small gas flows in a furnace
because of inevitable heat losses at the furnace exit. The
present investigation deals, therefore, with the minimum
condition of fuel-air ignition by relatively large flows of hot
gas. The influence of velocity of the hot gas on ignition could
not be investigated for reasons explained later. This in-
vestigation was limited to ignition by a steady stream of hot
gas. Ignition by sudden bursts of hot gas is outside the scope
of this paper.

Experimental Arrangement
The source of ignition was a steady flow of hot nitrogen,
carbon dioxide, air, etc. The gas entered the furnace from
below. After being heated, it flowed into the explosive mix-
ture or pure fuel, which in turn flowed slowly through the outer
Platinum wire
vessel (Fig. 1) to avoid dilution by the jet of hot gas. This
jet of hot gas was surprisingly coherent; for instance, a sheet
of paper held 10 cm above the jet was punctured initially with Fig. 2 The construction of the furnace
a very small hole followed by ignition of the paper. The
furnace consisted of an inner ceramic tube through which the
gas flowed. This tube was surrounded by a spiral of platinum
hotter than those at the center. Flows below 20 cc/sec
wire embedded in ceramic paste. A larger tube enclosed the
were unsuitable; the layers close to the wall were much
inner tube and was sintered to the inner tube with the ceramic
cooler than those at the center, due to the cooling of the last
paste. Additional ceramic tubes around both these tubes
5 mm of the inner tube which had no heating coil, since it
served as insulation (Fig. 2). Gases could be heated to a
protruded through the water jacket. Furnace 2 was suitable
maximum of 1400 C before the furnace was damaged due to
for slightly larger flows, since the inner tube was larger (7 mm
melting of the ceramic and platinum wire in localized spots
diam).
within the furnace.
To keep results comparable, flows of 35 cc/sec were always
The temperature of the gas jet was measured directly above
used (unless stated otherwise) for furnaces 1 and 3, and a
the furnace outlet with a platinum-platinum rhodium ther-
flow of 60 cc/sec for furnace 2. Helium and hydrogen jets
mocouple before and after each ignition experiment. The
were difficult to work with, because heat dissipated very fast
thermocouple wire was 0.005 in. thick; a small bead formed
at the outlet of the furnace, and this could be overcome only
the junction (Fig. 2). Furnaces 1 and 3, which had an
by larger flows. In the initial stage of an experiment, the
inner tube of 4 mm internal diameter, were suitable for heat-
igniting gas flowed through the furnace, and steady furnace
ing flows of around 30 to 50 cc/sec. Flows above 100 cc/
conditions had to be attained. At this stage, an inert gas,
sec showed temperature profiles with layers close to the wall
such as nitrogen or carbon dioxide, was used for the outer
3
Numbers in parentheses indicate References at end of paper. gas stream instead of the explosive mixture to be ignited.

DECEMBER 1958 799


The temperature at the center of the hot jet was measured
directly above the inner tube. The thermocouple was then
removed, and the explosive mixture was substituted for the
inert atmosphere in the outer vessel. Ignition or nonignition
was observed. The inert atmosphere was introduced again,
and the temperature checked with the thermocouple. The
outer explosive mixture to be ignited by the hot jet flowed at a
steady rate, usually 100 to 300 cc/sec. No difference in
minimum ignition temperatures could be observed between
these flow limits. The outer explosive mixture was kept as
close as possible to room temperature. However, as the cool-
ing water in the furnace jacket usually was at a slightly higher
temperature, the gas may have been closer to 40 C than to
room temperature.
Ignition temperatures with a hot nichrome wire were meas-
ured for comparison with the hot gas ignition temperatures.
A 40/1000-in. wire 9 cm long was suspended horizontally in a
tube 9 cm in diameter and 50 cm in length. The explosive
mixture flowed past the wire at a rate of about 200 cc/sec,
corresponding to a flow velocity around 3 cm/sec. Our pur-
pose was not to make a detailed study of ignition by hot wires,
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but to obtain ignition temperatures for a variety of fuels


under comparable conditions. The temperature of the wire
was measured with a pyrometer and reported directly as
measured, i.e., the black body temperature of the wire at
6500 AE. No correction for emissivity was applied, because Fig. 3 (a) Flame developing with a 35 cc/sec hot air jet in ethane.
the wire acquired an oxide coating following some preliminary (b) Luminosity within hot argon jet in stoichiometric ethane-air
experiments, making the emissivity of the surface doubtful. mixture, (c) Luminosity within hot argon jet in a very rich
The wire was heated by slowly increasing the electrical cur- ethane-air mixture, (d) Luminosity within hot argon jet in a
rent, following the temperature rise of the wire with the py- very lean ethane-air mixture
rometer. The ignition temperature was defined as the tem-
perature immediately prior to ignition, detected by the
sound. All gases used were taken from cylinders (Matheson
Co.). Carbon monoxide was of commercial grade. Table 1 Corrections for th ermocouple, deg C

Temperature
Accuracy of Results as measured Correction
500 5
The gas ignition temperatures were reproducible within 700 15
±10 C, for example when checking the value for ethane fol- 900 30
lowing measurements with propane or a similar hydrocarbon. 1100 60
The ignition temperatures, however, were not the same for 1300 100
different furnaces and depended on the history of each furnace.
Because of the heat losses of the hot gas jet in the exit of the
furnace, the temperature across the jet was not a constant,
and the resulting profile depended on the conductivity of the and all hydrogen mixtures except those near the lean limit.
sintered material on the furnace top. After prolonged use, In these cases, catalytic surface reactions contributed to the
the furnace usually developed cracks in this sintered material, wire heating. No results are reported for. these mixtures.
leading to smaller heat losses and an improved temperature
profile, which in turn led to a lowering in ignition tempera-
tures. After aging, all furnaces built during this investigation Results
gave ignition temperatures agreeing to within ± 2 0 C. A new
furnace, however, initially gave values up to 150 C too high. The process of hot gas ignition will be described first. Two
Intentional aging would have been beneficial, but it was types of ignition flames must be distinguished: 1 Flames
difficult to predict at which temperatures aging or total which develop when a jet of hot air flows into cold fuel, and 2
destruction of the furnace would have occurred. flames which develop when hot air or hot inert gas flows into a
Accordingly results are reported with the following limita- cold explosive mixture.
tions : Furnaces 1 and 2 were aged before the measurements 1 A jet of hot air at slightly below ignition temperature
recorded in Tables 2, 3, and 4 were made, and ignition temper- introduced into a cold fuel, such as ethane, leaves little visible
atures were reproducible throughout. Furnace 3 was new trace of reaction. When the air temperature is raised, a
when used for the recorded data, but aging occurred during small flame suddenly appears floating about 5 cm above the
the experiments (see remarks in Tables 2 and 4). furnace tube. This flame has a bluish base topped by a
The temperatures recorded were measured directly with the bright green section (Fig. 3a). When the temperature of the
thermocouple and potentiometer. It is believed that heat jet is reduced, this flame disappears. When the temperature
losses of the thermocouple due to conductivity are very small of the air jet is increased above the minimum ignition tempera-
as a great length of wire was immersed in the hot gas jet. ture, this flame may become self-propagating and may flash
No radiation corrections were applied, since they are un- back onto the furnace tube forming a diffusion flame with
certain and may falsify the results. As a guide, the corrections abundant carbon formation. Reduction of the air tempera-
in Table 1 are believed to be approximately valid for an air ture no longer extinguishes this flame. For the 7 mm jet,
or nitrogen jet of 35 cc/sec, from a 4 mm diameter tube. this flame has a greater tendency to flash back and sit on the
Ignition temperatures with the hot wire were reproducible furnace tube, whereas smaller jets (4 and 2 mm diam) give
to within ± 1 0 C or better. Difficulties were encountered rise to floating flames which give the impression of stationary
only with very rich ethylene mixtures, rich acetylene mixtures self-ignition flames.

800 J E T PROPULSION
2 An inert gas, such as nitrogen, flowing into a cold ex-
plosive mixture gives rise to a luminous column where slow / Butane

reactions take place at temperatures below the minimum JL_ 1 i i 1 i •


ignition temperature (Fig. 3b). Increasing the temperature /Ethylene
o ignition below this teniperat

of the jet makes the column longer and brighter. Finally, the
^i k-—
^
column branches out at some point up to 30 cm above the •

furnace tube, and a flame propagates throughout the vessel.


i
A report and the blowing off of the lid are further evidence of \ ^ L Carbon monoxide | at rich limit, 94C °cTl

ignition. Ignition can also be approached by making the -*•


outside mixture too rich and slowly reducing the fuel content. No ignition Deiow mis temperature-v

The luminous column is quite bright, with a purple color for


the first 10 cm of the jet, followed by a bright green region. IK _J
As before, ignition occurs from the top of the column. Figs. OXYGEN NECESSARY FOR STOICHIOMETRIC COMBUSTION/OXYGEN IN MIXTURE.

3c and 3d show luminous columns with a jet temperature


Fig. 4 Change of hot gas ignition temperature with mixture
high enough to ignite stoichiometric mixtures, the actual mix-
strength
ture being either just too lean or too rich for ignition.
Table 2 shows ignition temperatures for hot air jets flowing
into pure cold fuel. In all instances, small flames are formed Table 4 gives ignition temperatures of fuel-air mixtures
which float between 2 and 5 cm above the furnace exit. In ignited by a jet of hot nitrogen. The temperatures recorded
some instances, this flame may subsequently flash back to correspond to the mixture compositions which gave the lowest
form a full diffusion flame. ignition temperatures.
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Table 2 Ignition temperatures in deg C for a hot air jet


into cold fuel Table 4 Ignition temperatures in deg C for a jet of hot
nitrogerL into fuel-air mixtures
Furnace 1 Furnace 2 Furnace 3
(aged) (aged) (new) Furnace 2 Furnace 3
Jet diam Jet diam Jet diam Fuel in fuel--air (aged) (new)
4 mm 7 mm 4 mm mixture N 2 jet, 60 cc/sec N 2 jet, 35 cc/sec
Fuel 35 cc/sec air 60 cc/sec air 35 cc/sec air methane >1200 Close to 1425 (aged)
methane 1180 1135 1180 a ethane 1015 1110
ethane 920 905 990& (1050 after aging)
propane 980 960 1070 propane 1110 1200
n-butane 960 1075 n-butane 1095 1220
ethylene 840 840 890 c ethylene 985 1110
propylene 1040 1020 1085 propylene 1150 1305
iso-butylene 1030 1110 iso-butylene 1155 1295
carbon mon- carbon monoxide 795 905
oxide 745 760 765 hydrogen <755 not tested
hydrogen 655 670 665° acetylene not tested not tested
acetylene 700 700 a
a
Furnace aged
0
920 C after aging
c
845 C after aging Methane-air mixtures could not be ignited. At 1425 C
(furnace 3) a strong luminous column formed in the hot jet,
indicating that the ignition temperature was near, but further
Furnaces 1 and 2 were used at high temperatures for pre- raising of the temperature made the furnace break. Furnace
liminary experiments, and therefore were aged, giving lower 2 broke above 1200 C when trying to ignite methane-air.
values than furnace 3, which was used directly for final meas- Hydrogen-air mixtures gave a violent explosion when ignited
urements. The hydrogen and acetylene experiments in fur- with a jet of nitrogen at 755 C, so the accurate ignition tem-
nace 3 were run following an experiment (referred to in perature could not be measured. Acetylene was not tested
Table 4) in which the jet temperature was raised to 1300 C, for the same reason.
with subsequent aging. The methane experiments were last An attempt was made to measure not only the lowest
in each set. temperature at which a 35 cc/sec hot nitrogen jet ignites the
In one experiment, 35 cc/sec oxygen was substituted for air most favorable fuel-air mixture, but also the ignition tempera-
in furnace 1. This reduced the ignition temperature of pro- tures over the whole range of mixture compositions. Fig. 4
pane from 980 to 960 C. With hydrogen and carbon mon- gives ignition temperature (furnace 3) vs. mixture composition
oxide, it is possible to reverse the ignition experiment and curves for butane, ethylene and carbon monoxide. The
cause ignition in air with a jet of hot fuel. Table 3 shows the curves are quite flat, i.e., ignition temperature does not
results. change much with mixture composition, making it difficult to
locate the minimum accurately. Hydrocarbons seems to
ignite slightly better when the fuel is rich, with the exception
of ethylene for which the minimum is on the lean side. With
Table 3 Ignition temperatures in deg C for air into fuel propylene the minimum corresponds to a stoichiometric mix-
and fuel into air with furnace 1 ture, whereas with butylene the minimum is. again on the
fuel-rich side. Carbon monoxide ignites much more readily
Hot jet Cold medium Ignition temp. when the fuel is rich.
air H2 655 The ignition of fuel-air mixtures by hot air, instead of nitro-
H2 air 820 gen, also has been investigated. (See Fig. 5.) For pure fuel
air CO 745 the values are identical to those in Table 2 (furnace 3). The
CO air 860
addition of air even in rather large amounts affects the igni-
tion temperature very little. The resulting flame obtained is

DECEMBER 1958 801


i The oxygen index of the explosive mixtures has little in-
fluence on the ignition temperature. An increase of the
} oxygen index from 0.21 to 0.25 in an ethylene-air mixture
A( ignited by hot nitrogen reduced the ignition temperature by
Isobutylene - ^
f-o—|
k—< \r less than 20 C. Higher oxygen indexes could not be con-
• ^~* sidered, because the explosion became too violent.
Ethanek^
\/ The results of the wire ignition experiments are summarized

Ethylene ^s
f l1 in Fig. 6. The ignition temperatures are not very sensitive
to mixture composition. With the exception of carbon mon-
i
oxide, all ignition temperatures are lower for lean flames.
f However, the slope is more pronounced for methane, propyl-
^arbo uxide ene, butane and butylene than for the other gases. Hydrogen
and acetylene could only be measured satisfactorily on the
very lean side for reasons already explained. The oxygen
index was altered for an ethane- "air" mixture. The ignition
temperature is affected very little by this change (see Fig. 7).
AIR, PERCENT
50
FUEL, PERCENT

Fig. 5 Ignition of fuel-air mixtures by hot air (35 cc/sec). Discussion


Arrow marks stoichiometric point
Little information is available in the literature on the igni-
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tion of explosive mixtures by hot gases. Wright and Becker


simply a suspended diffusion flame. As the mixture composi- (2) appear to have been the only investigators to attempt this
tion approaches the rich limit, the ignition temperature be- problem. They heated air or nitrogen on quite a large scale
gins to rise and continues steadily upward toward the lean with a heat exchanger and circulated fuel-air mixtures around
limit. Within the explosive range, a flame moves through the hot jet. They were able to heat the inner jet to just
the whole vessel after ignition, instead of remaining suspended. above 1000 C. This was only sufficient to ignite an outer
Table 5 summarizes the ignition of stoichiometric fuel-air acetylene-air mixture, which required an inner jet temperature
mixtures by a 35 cc/sec jet of hot air. of 752 C. Propane could be ignited only when the outside
mixture also was heated. Thus hardly any data are avail-
able for comparing Wright and Becker's work and the work
Table 5 Ignition of a stoichiometric fuel-air mixture by reported here. Their value for acetylene is slightly higher
hot air (35 cc/sec ) furnace 3 (new) than our value for hot air into pure acetylene, but they do
Fuel Ignition temp., deg C
methane not tested
ethane 1120
propane 1160
n-butane 1170
ethylene 980
propylene 1200
iso-butylene 1215
carbon monoxide 870

The influence of the nature of the hot gas on ignition has


been further investigated by substituting carbon dioxide,
argon or helium for nitrogen or air as the igniting gas. Table
6 gives details for ethylene-, ethane- and carbon monoxide-air
0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1.0 1.2 1.4 1.6 1.8 2.0 2.2 2.4
mixtures ignited by hot nitrogen, argon, helium or carbon OXYGEN NECESSARY FOR STOICHIOMETRIC COMBUSTION/OXYGEN IN MIXTURE.

dioxide jets.
Fig. 6 Ignition of fuel-air mixtures by a 0.04-in. nichrome wire

Table 6 Ignition temperature of most favorable mixture


by inert hot jets, deg C (35 cc/sec) furnace 3
Carbon ui 1 000
Fuel Nitrogen Argon Helium dioxide a:
o
ethane 1100 1175 1290 1100
ethylene 1110 1165 1265 1075 o
UJ
carbon monoxide 900 925 1000 870 (X 900
<
UJ
o_
The foregoing values are the result of separate experiments, UJ
and the values for nitrogen are not identical, although close, \- 800
z
to those reported in Table 4. The flow of helium was ad- o
justed to 100 cc/sec for the ethane and ethylene experiments,
/\
z A ^ ' j"
and to 60 cc/sec for the carbon monoxide test, because the end o
effects of the furnace influenced the helium temperature too 700
much with a flow of 35 cc/sec. The furnace tended to over- 20 2422 26 28 30
heat for low helium flows. Carbon dioxide seemed to be as OXYGEN INDEX
effective as nitrogen for ignition. Argon required slightly Fig. 7 Ignition of C 2 H 6 -"air" mixture by hot nichrome wire.
higher temperatures, but helium did not ignite well at all. Effect of oxygen index

802 J E T PROPULSION
Table 7
Minimum ignition energy^
Gas ignition Spontaneous Stoichiometric Optimum
temp.6 ignition temp. mixture mixture
Fuel deg C with air with air with air
degC
methane 1180 537 0.34 0.28 X 10"3 joules
ethane 920 472 0.31 0.25
propane 980 493 0.40 0.25
n-butane 960 408 0.70 0.25
ethylene 840 490 0.1 l c
propylene 1040 458 0.41 c
iso-butylene 1030 443
carbon monoxide 745 609
hydrogen 655 572 0.02 0.02
acetylene 700 305 0.03 c
a
Interpolated from Figs. 185, 187 in (4)
b
From Table 2
c
From Calcote in (5) (Flange electrode)
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not sa}^ whether this value is for hot nitrogen or hot air. does not fit into the order, since its limit temperature is much
Moreover, their mass flows were very large compared to ours. the same as that of other hydrocarbons. It is also known that
However, Wright and Becker were the first to note that a the oxygen index has little effect on the lean limit.
luminous reaction precedes the spreading of the flame. The ignition process itself will now be considered in more
They call this reaction an "initial flame." We doubt whether, detail. It is important to note that when hot nitrogen is in-
at least in our case, this is a flame, as it does not have such jected into a fuel-air mixture, a luminous reaction occurs in the
flame characteristics as self-propagation. Accordingly, we core of the hot jet. The hot jet gradually loses heat to the
prefer to call it a luminous column. surrounding gas, but at the same time mass transfer takes
It is tempting to compare ignition temperatures as meas- place, i.e., nitrogen flows radially from the jet and is replaced
ured here with other flame characteristics, such as spontane- by an explosive mixture. This explosive mixture will react if
ous ignition temperatures (as measured in furnaces), minimum the residual temperature of the jet is high enough. If the heat
spark ignition energies, etc. The values found in the litera- produced along the jet is less than that lost by conduction, the
ture on spontaneous ignition temperatures vary widely; reaction dies out, and there is no ignition. If the initial jet
the values recommended by Scott et al (3) are recorded in the temperature is increased, the luminous column becomes longer,
second column of Table 7. They are compared to the lowest and a propagating flame originates at the center of the jet.
values obtained for ignition by hot gas, i.e., when hot air is Theoretical calculations for a two-dimensional model (hot gas
injected into pure fuel. It is clear that little or no correlation in contact with cool explosive mixture) have predicted this
exists. For hydrocarbons the hot gas ignition temperature is behavior (Marble (7), Cheng (8), Spalding (9)). Wright and
very roughly double the spontaneous ignition temperatures, Becker were able to observe it in their high-speed ignition
when expressed in deg C, whereas that for hydrogen or carbon arrangement. It has now been shown to be applicable in a
monoxide is only slightly higher. Even within a series of wide variety of experiments.
hydrocarbons, there is no correlation. Table 4 shows that Therefore, ignition is dependent on the reaction rate at a
this also holds for ignition with hot nitrogen. given temperature level in the core of the jet. The ignition
Table 7 also gives minimum ignition energies as reported in temperatures in Table 4 measure the relative reaction rates of
(4). If there is a correlation between hot gas ignition and the fuel-air mixtures. However, the reaction rate is not the
minimum spark ignition energy, one would expect the rela- only factor influencing ignition. If it were, a jet of hot air into
tion to be with the energy for the most favorable mixture. cold hydrogen would have the same ignition temperature as
However, paraffin hydrocarbons show very little change. A hot hydrogen into cold air. In fact, the temperatures differ
certain correlation does appear to exist for the values taken at by 165 C. Mass transfer must be considered. More air
stoichiometric ratio, especially as hydrogen and acetylene must diffuse into hydrogen to form a reaction mixture than
have very low minimum ignition energies. If carbon mon- hydrogen into air, for reasons of stoichiometry. More in-
oxide also had low ignition energies this would be an important formation as to the importance of diffusivity and the specific
proof. However, this is very unlikely, and no measurements heat of the jet is available from the experiments with hot
could be found in the literature. Any anticipated correla- argon, helium and carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is not
tion breaks down, if we consider that an increase in oxygen essentially better than nitrogen, and the heat content or
index has very little influence on the hot gas ignition tempera- energy of the jet does not seem to be of great importance.
ture, whereas it affects the minimum ignition energy greatly The ignition temperature of argon is only slightly higher than
(see (4)). that of nitrogen. However, the high diffusivity of helium is
It is because of this lack of correlation that the hot wire clearly responsible for the large increase in ignition tempera-
experiments were performed. A comparison between Fig. 6 ture as compared to argon. The higher jet velocity which had
and either Table 2 or Table 4 shows that the correlation is to be used with the helium jet is not responsible for the in-
nearly perfect. This holds also for the values obtained with a crease in ignition temperature, since the influence of jet
different oxygen index, as in both instances little change is in- velocity on ignition temperature is small for laminar jets.
dicated. This close correlation suggests that an important This subject will be considered in a separate paper.
characteristic of flame ignition has been found. That the oxygen index is of little importance is also under-
Correlation with lean limit temperatures leads to some standable, since temperature controls the reaction rate to a
agreement as hydrogen, carbon monoxide and acetylene have a greater degree than does concentration, and dilution with
low lean limit temperature compared with paraffin hydro- nitrogen decreases the ignition temperature only slightly.
carbons. (For values see Egerton (6).) However, methane It has been known for some time that gas ignition by hot

DECEMBER 1958 803


wires occurs in t h e wake of t h e wire, a t least as long as t h e t e m p e r a t u r e profile of t h e hot jet. Investigation of t h e d i a m -
wire does not give rise t o catalytic effects. This ignition also eter and velocity effect in t h e future is hoped for.
will be determined b y whether t h e reaction r a t e is greater 1 wish to t h a n k M r . A. E . Bruszak for conducting p a r t of
than t h e h e a t loss b y conductivity. T h e close similarity t h e ignition experiments.
between hot wire ignition a n d h o t gas ignition becomes u n d e r -
standable. M o r e difficult is t h e question of why h o t wire References
ignition is so insensitive to m i x t u r e concentration, whereas
hot gas ignition shows a m i n i m u m . A definitive answer can- 1 Wolfhard, H. G. and Burgess, D. S., ' T h e Ignition of Com-
not be given a t t h e m o m e n t . I t can only be pointed out t h a t , bustible Gases by Flames," Combustion and Flame, vol. 2, 1958,
pp. 3-12.
whereas hot gas ignition depends on a reaction r a t e in a given
2 Wright, F. H. and Becker, T. L., "Combustion in the
volume, hot wire ignition can expand t h e useful volume of Mixing Zone Between Two Parallel Streams/' J E T PROPULSION,
reacting gases along t h e wire axis. vol. 26, 1956, pp. 973-978.
Although diffusivity as well as reaction r a t e determines igni- 3 Scott, G. S., Jones, G. W., and Scott, F. E., "Determination
tion for hot gas a n d hot wire ignition, it is r a t h e r surprising of Ignition Temperatures of Combustible Liquids and Gases,"
t h a t so little similarity exists between those modes of ignition Analytical Chemistry, vol. 20, 1948, pp. 238-241.
and spontaneous gas ignition. H o t gas and hot wire ignition 4 Lewis, B. and von Elbe, G., "Combustion, Flames and Ex-
require higher t e m p e r a t u r e s t h a n does spontaneous ignition. plosions of Gases," Acadamic Press, New York, 1951.
As different fuels h a v e very different activation energies, a 5 Calcote, H. F., Gregory, C. A., Jr., Barnett, C. M. and
Gilmer, R. B., "Spark Ignition," Indust. Engrg. Chem., vol. 44,
rise in t e m p e r a t u r e s entirely reverses t h e reaction rates, i.e., 1952, pp. 2656-2662.
carbon monoxide seems to h a v e a higher reaction r a t e t h a n 6 Egerton, A. C , "Limits of Inflammability," Fourth Sym-
propylene a t 800 C, whereas a t lower t e m p e r a t u r e s t h e reverse posium (International) on Combustion, Williams & Wilkins Co.,
is t r u e . Baltimore, 1953, pp. 4-13.
Downloaded by UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS on March 14, 2015 | http://arc.aiaa.org | DOI: 10.2514/8.7472

M o r e information is needed to establish t h e influence of jet 7 Marble, F. E. and Adamson, T. C , Jr., "Ignition and Com-
diameter a n d jet velocity. I n t h i s investigation, t h e diameter bustion in a Laminar Mixing Zone," "Selected Combustion Prob-
was varied from 2 to 7 m m , a n d ignition t e m p e r a t u r e showed lems," AGARD, Butterworths Scientific Publications, London,
1954, pp. 111-131.
little change. T h e results with t h e 2 m m diameter were not
8 Cheng, S. I. and Kovitz, A. A., "Ignition in the Laminar
reported here, as t h e y were less accurate due to t h e difficulty Wake of a Flat Plate," Sixth Symposium (International) on
of measuring t e m p e r a t u r e s in such a limited space. M u c h Combustion, Reinhold Publishing Corp., New York, 1957, pp.
larger diameters m u s t be used in t h e future to investigate t h i s 418-427.
effect. T h e velocity of t h e hot jet could not be altered sig- 9 Spalding, D. B., "Some Fundamentals of Combustion,"
nificantly in our experiments because of t h e change of t h e Butterworths Scientific Publications, London, 1955.

Digital Computer Analysis of Transients in Liquid


Rocket Engines
P. K L U G E R 1 a n d E. C. F A R R E L 2

A e r o j e t - G e n e r a l C o r p . , S a c r a m e n t o , Calif.

A d i g i t a l c o m p u t e r p r o g r a m for e n g i n e t r a n s i e n t s t u d y Nomenclature
h a s b e e n developed t o o b t a i n a n e v a l u a t i o n of p r e s s u r e
2
surges in t h e propellant system during s t a r t u p and s h u t - A = area, ft
d o w n . T h i s t e c h n i q u e is i n t e n d e d t o s u p p l e m e n t a n d b = pipe wall thickness, ft
eventually replace analog c o m p u t e r start a n d s h u t d o w n c = velocity of sound, ft/sec
c* = characteristic velocity, ft/sec
t r a n s i e n t a n a l y s i s w h i c h does n o t provide r e a l i s t i c s i m u l a -
Cv = specific heat at constant volume, B t u / l b / F
t i o n of p r o p e l l a n t l i n e s a n d c o m b u s t i o n d e a d t i m e s . T h e cp specific heat at constant pressure, B t u / l b / F
m a t h e m a t i c a l m o d e l u s e d for p r o p e l l a n t l i n e r e p r e s e n t a - =
= constant
t i o n w a s b a s e d on t h e w a t e r - h a m m e r t h e o r y as o r i g i n - c
Dl = pipe diameter, ft
ally developed b y Allievi, i.e., h y d r a u l i c o s c i l l a t i o n s E = pipe modulus of elasticity, lb/ft 2
a p p e a r as p r e s s u r e s u r g e s c a u s e d b y t h e c o n v e r s i o n of e = water-hammer slope, lb-sec/ft 3
kinetic to potential energy, where t h e kinetic energy e' = modified water-hammer slope, sec/ft 2
c h a n g e s a r e a r e s u l t of s y s t e m i m p e d a n c e c h a n g e s t a k i n g F = function denoting a pressure wave
p l a c e d u r i n g e n g i n e s t a r t or s h u t d o w n . L i n e e q u a t i o n s f = function denoting a pressure wave
9 = acceleration of gravity, ft/sec 2
and component transfer functions have been programmed
h = film coefficient of heat transfer, Btu/sec F ft 2
in a general m a n n e r , allowing r o u t i n e p a r a m e t e r changes heat of vaporization, B t u / l b
t o b e e x e c u t e d w i t h o u t t h e n e e d of m a j o r r e p r o g r a m m i n g .
hf =
I = moment of inertia, ft-lb-sec 2
T h e a n a l y s i s d e t e r m i n e d t h e v a l u e s of i n s t a n t a n e o u s p r o - K, K' = constants or bulk modulus, (min/rev) 2 , lb/ft 2
p e l l a n t flow a n d t r a n s i e n t p r e s s u r e s a t p o i n t s of i n t e r e s t k = thermal conductivity, Btu/sec F ft
in t h e s y s t e m for successive t i m e i n t e r v a l s . L = length, ft
M = molecular weight, lb/mol
n = interaction index
Received Oct. 17, 1957. Nu Nusselt number
1
Design Engineer, Systems and Controls Department, Liquid =
Rocket Plant. Member ARS. V = pressure, lb/ft 2
2
Design Engineer, Systems and Controls Department, Liquid Pr = Prandtl number
Rocket Plant. Q = volume flow, ft 3 /sec

804 JET PROPULSION