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Theoretical and Numerical Investigation of Nonlinear Thermoacoustic, Acoustic, and Detonation Waves

posted on 02.08.2019 by Prateek Gupta
Finite amplitude perturbations in compressible media are ubiquitous in scientific and engineering applications such as gas-turbine engines, rocket propulsion systems, combustion instabilities, inhomogeneous solids, and traffic flow prediction models, to name a few. Small amplitude waves in compressible fluids propagate as sound and are very well described by linear theory. On the other hand, the theory of nonlinear acoustics, concerning high-amplitude wave propagation (Mach<2) is relatively underdeveloped. Most of the theoretical development in nonlinear acoustics has focused on wave steepening and has been centered around the Burgers' equation, which can be extended to nonlinear acoustics only for purely one-way traveling waves. In this dissertation, theoretical and computational developments are discussed with the objective of advancing the multi-fidelity modeling of nonlinear acoustics, ranging from quasi one-dimensional high-amplitude waves to combustion-induced detonation waves.

We begin with the theoretical study of spectral energy cascade due to the propagation of high amplitude sound in the absence of thermal sources. To this end, a first-principles-based system of governing equations, correct up to second order in perturbation variables is derived. The exact energy corollary of such second-order system of equations is then formulated and used to elucidate the spectral energy dynamics of nonlinear acoustic waves. We then extend this analysis to thermoacoustically unstable waves -- i.e. amplified as a result of thermoacoustic instability. We drive such instability up until the generation of shock waves. We further study the nonlinear wave propagation in geometrically complex case of waves induced by the spark plasma between the electrodes. This case adds the geometrical complexity of a curved, three-dimensional shock, yielding vorticity production due to baroclinic torque. Finally, detonation waves are simulated by using a low-order approach, in a periodic setup subjected to high pressure inlet and exhaust of combustible gaseous mixture. An order adaptive fully compressible and unstructured Navier Stokes solver is currently under development to enable higher fidelity studies of both the spark plasma and detonation wave problem in the future.


Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy


Mechanical Engineering

Campus location

West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Carlo Scalo

Additional Committee Member 2

Sally Bane

Additional Committee Member 3

Ivan Christov

Additional Committee Member 4

Stuart Bolton