Fluid instabilities, particularly interfacial instabilities, have proven to be a powerful mechanism in driving and sustaining combustion processes in several devices of practical interest. Modern combustors are in fact designed to exploit the mixing and combustion characteristics associated with a broad class of canonical, interfacial instabilities. In spite of their relevance to combustor design, a detailed understanding of such flows has been elusive. While much progress has been made in gaining insights into the dynamics of shear-driven flows, an understanding of the interaction between combustion processes and other interfacial instabilities remains preliminary. In this chapter, we review recent results on Rayleigh-Taylor (RT) instability and the shock-driven Richtmyer-Meshkov (RM) instability in the context of combustion. The vast catalogue of research on non-reacting RT and RM flows has demonstrated these instabilities can be manipulated to achieve more efficient and aggressive mixing in comparison with the canonical Kelvin-Helmholtz (KH) problem. This has motivated recent efforts to understand RT/RM instability development in the presence of chemical reactions, leading to combustion and heat release – we present a review of these results and identify opportunities and challenges in this chapter.
Part of the book: Developments in Combustion Technology