Formation of stabilized oblique detonation waves in a combustor

Zijian Zhang, Chihyung Wen, Wenshuo Zhang, Yunfeng Liu, Zonglin Jiang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Initiation and stabilization of oblique detonation waves (ODWs) are important to the successful application of oblique detonation engines (ODEs), which, however, have been rarely studied under realistic combustor conditions. In this study, the flow structures, stabilization characteristics and potential thrust performance (under different combustor's geometries with different ODW reflection locations) in a typical hydrogen-fueled ODE combustor are numerically studied by solving the two-dimensional multi-species Reynolds-averaged conservation equations with a detailed hydrogen combustion mechanism. Results suggest that all the detonation waves/shock waves can be stabilized in the space-confined combustor, and the boundary layer separation induced by the ODW-boundary layer interaction is found crucial to determining the types of combustion mode in the combustor. Except for the expected ODW-induced combustion, fast combustion induced by a stabilized overdriven normal detonation wave (NDW) may exist in the combustor simultaneously (even up to a large extent, >73.7%). It is demonstrated that the stabilization of the overdriven NDW in the combustor can be attributed to the formation of an effective aerodynamic convergent-divergent nozzle that quickly accelerates the subsonic flow behind the NDW to supersonic, preventing downstream disturbances from propagating upstream. Benefiting from the chemical equilibrium shift caused by the expansion effect of the flow, more heat is released to compensate for the compression loss and the simulated thrust performance is shown not deteriorate significantly even with a large percentage of NDW-induced combustion existing in the ODE combustor. This work would be beneficial to the future developments of the ODEs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)423-436
Number of pages14
JournalCombustion and Flame
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • Boundary layer separation
  • Combustor
  • Normal detonation wave
  • Oblique detonation engine
  • Oblique detonation wave

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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