Research

Detonation in a Bubble

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Accidental releases of combustible gases in unconfined spaces can be difficult to recreate in a laboratory environment.  Here researchers simulate the conditions using detonation inside a soap film bubble. Combustible gases are pumped inside the soap film and then a spark creates ignition. The resulting flame propagation is visualized using high-speed schlieren photography, making the density gradients in the flame visible. When the mixture of hydrogen fuel to air is balanced, the flame is spherically symmetric with a high flame speed.  In contrast, weaker mixtures of fuel/air produce slow flame speeds and mushroom-like flames that leave behind unreacted fuel.  This is due to buoyant effects; the time scale associated with buoyancy is smaller than that of the flame speed and chemical reactions when the fuel/air mixture is lean.  (Video credit: L. Leblanc et al.)

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