Faculty Advisor

Ali S. Rangwala




Influence of dust particles on the characteristics of premixed methane-air flames has been studied in this dissertation. Experiments are performed in a Bunsen burner type experimental set-up called Hybrid Flame Analyzer (HFA), which can be used to measure the burning velocity of gas, dust, and hybrid (gas and dust) premixed flames at constant pressure operating conditions. In the current study, analysis of particle-gas-air system of different types of dust particles (at particle size, dp = 75-90 µm) in premixed methane-air (ϕg = 0.8, 1.0 and 1.2) flames. Coal, sand, and sodium bicarbonate particles are fed along with a premixed methane-air mixture at different concentrations (λp = 0-75 g/m3) in both laminar and turbulent conditions. First, the variation of laminar burning velocity with respect to the concentration of dust particles, and type of dusts are investigated for different equivalence ratios. Second, the laminar premixed flame extinction with inert and chemical suppressant particles are studied. Third, the variation of turbulent burning velocity of these hybrid mixtures are investigated against different turbulent intensities apart from the different concentrations and types of dusts. Fourth, the radiative fraction of heat released from turbulent gas-dust premixed flames are also presented against the operating parameters considered. Combustible dust deflagration hazard is normally quantified using the deflagration index (Kst) measured using a constant volume explosion sphere, which typically is a sealed 20-liter metal sphere where a premixed mixture is ignited at the center and the progression of the resulting deflagration wave is recorded using the pressure measured at the vessel wall. It has been verified from prior studies that the quantification of the turbulence by this method is questionable and there is a need to analyze the controlling parameters of particle-gas-air premixed system accurately through a near constant pressure operated experimental platform. Thus, the main objective of this study is to analyze the influence of dust particles on premixed methane-air flames at near constant pressure conditions. The turbulent burning velocity is calculated by averaging the measured flame heights and the laminar burning velocity is calculated through the premixed cone angle measurements from several high-speed shadowgraph images obtained from the experiments. The turbulent intensity and length scale of turbulence generated by a perforated plate in the burner is quantified from the hot-wire anemometer measurements. Radiative heat flux is also measured for each of the turbulent test conditions. The outcomes from these experiments are: 1. An understanding of the variation of turbulent burning velocity of gas-dust premixed flames as a function of dust type, turbulent intensity, integral length scale, dust concentration and gas phase mixture ratio. 2. An understanding of the flame extinction characteristics and variation of laminar burning velocity of gas-dust premixed flames as a function of dust concentration and gas phase mixture ratio. 3. Quantify the radiative heat flux and radiative fraction of heat released from gas-dust turbulent premixed flames as a function of dust type, turbulent intensity, dust concentration and gas phase mixture ratio. Dust type and concentration play an important role in deciding the trend in the variation of both laminar (SL) and turbulent burning velocity (ST). Coal particles, with the release of volatile (methane), tend to increase burning velocities except for fuel rich conditions and at higher coal concentrations at larger turbulent intensities. At a higher turbulent intensity and larger concentrations, higher ST values are observed with the addition of sand. Sodium bicarbonate addition, with the release of CO2 and H2O, decreased the burning velocity at all the concentrations, turbulent intensities and equivalence ratios. Laminar flame extinction was observed with the addition of sand and sodium bicarbonate particles at conditions exceeding certain critical dust concentrations. These critical concentrations varied with the equivalence ratios of gaseous premixed flames. The turbulence modulation exhibited by particles and particle concentration is evident in these observations. The independent characteristic time scale analysis performed using the experimental data provided further insights to the results. The chemical and convective times in gas phase confirm the broadened preheat thin reaction zone regime in the current test cases, which has an effect of attenuating turbulence and thereby the resulting turbulent burning velocity. The particle time scale analysis (Stokes number) show that the effect of particles and particle concentration is to slightly enhance the turbulence and increase the turbulent burning velocity at lower concentrations. However, the time scale analysis of particle vaporization (vaporization Damköhler number) indicate an increase in the vaporization rate for particles (coal and sodium bicarbonate) resulting in a decrease in their turbulent burning velocities at higher concentrations and turbulent intensities. Sodium bicarbonate has higher evaporation rate than coal at same level of turbulence and the absence of this effect for inert (sand) results in higher turbulent burning velocities at higher concentrations. An increase in the turbulent intensity increases the vaporization rate of particles. The investigation on radiative fraction of heat released by methane-air-dust turbulent premixed flames identified that, the addition of dust particles increases the radiative fraction irrespective of the dust type due to the radial and axial extension of flame. A unified approach to couple this multiple complex phenomenon of turbulence, particle interaction, particle vaporization and combustion in particle laden premixed gaseous flames is the direction for future research.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Fire Protection Engineering

Project Type


Date Accepted





heat flux, radiation, burning velocity, sodium bicarbonate, laminar, turbulent intensity, premixed flame, dust, dust concentration, turbulence, inert, coal