Industry-relevant turbulent premixed combustion models continue to rely on empirical expressions for turbulent flame speed in closure modelling for the mean turbulent reaction rate. To date, an accurate sub-model for turbulent flame speed has not been proposed for flows with high turbulence intensities. Experimental studies in the pertinent combustion regime, known as the Thin Reaction Zones (TRZ) regime, are limited by the existing techniques of turbulence generation whereas, until recently, the high computational expense involved in solving such problems has restricted theoretical studies.
We investigate the behaviour of premixed flames in the TRZ regime by conducting a parametric 3D Direct Numerical Simulation (DNS) study of stoichiometric methane-air mixtures using single-step chemistry in an inflow-outflow configuration. Inflow turbulence intensity is varied while keeping the integral length scale constant across six separate simulations which span altogether a significant portion of the TRZ regime. The resulting variation of turbulent flame speed with turbulence intensity demonstrates the well-known bending phenomenon and conforms with recent experimental observations of freely-propagating premixed flames in this regime.
As turbulence intensity is increased, the calculated flame surface exhibits an increasing degree of wrinkling and pocket-formation. In addition, the internal thermo-chemical structure of the flame is greatly affected when the turbulence intensity is more than an order of magnitude higher than the laminar flame speed. These qualitative observations establish the present DNS framework as a powerful tool for capturing turbulence-chemistry interactions that influence the bending phenomenon. Hence, this work forms the basis for further analysis using a detailed chemical description to investigate these interactions and, thereby, improve combustion models of industrial relevance.