Aluminum particle combustion in turbulent flames

Amy L. Corcoran, Vern K. Hoffmann, Edward L. Dreizin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Predictive mechanisms for particle ignition and combustion rates are required in order to develop optimized propellant and energetic formulations using micron-sized metal powders, such as aluminum. Most current descriptions are based on laboratory experiments performed in stationary or laminar combustion configurations. However, turbulent environments exist in most applications and validity of the present descriptions for such environments has not been established. This experimental study is aimed to measure burn times for aluminum particles burning in environments with different levels of turbulence. A laminar air-acetylene flame is produced, and auxiliary tangential jets of air with adjustable flow rates are used to achieve different controlled levels of turbulence. Fine spherical aluminum powder is injected in the flame axially using a flow of nitrogen. The streaks of burning particles are photographed using a camera placed behind a mechanical chopper interrupting the photo-exposure with a pre-set frequency. The obtained dashed streaks are used to measure the particle burn times for different flow conditions. The particle burn times are correlated with the particle size distribution to obtain the burn time as a function of the particle size. The results are processed to obtain a correction for the Al particle burn rate as a function of the turbulence intensity, I. The measured burn times are longer than predicted for the micron-sized Al particles using a correlation based on survey of earlier experiments, mostly with coarser Al powders. Increased turbulence intensity results in substantial reduction of the particle burn time. Present data suggest that the burn rate for particle combustion in a laminar environment should be multiplied by 1 + 18.2. I, to estimate the acceleration of aluminum combustion in turbulent environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)718-724
Number of pages7
JournalCombustion and Flame
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


  • Metal combustion
  • Particle burn rate
  • Turbulence intensity


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