Evaporation and Combustion of a Slowly Moving Liquid Fuel Droplet: Higher-Order Theory
The evaporation and combustion of a single-component fuel droplet which is moving slowly in a hot oxidant atmosphere have been analysed using perturbation methods. Results for the flow field, temperature and species distributions in each phase, interfacial heat and mass transfer, and the enhancement of the mass burning rate due to the presence of convection have all been developed correct to second order in the translational Reynolds number. This represents an advance over a previous study which analysed the problem to first order in the perturbation parameter. The primary motivation for the development of detailed analytical/numerical solutions correct to second order arises from the need for such a higher-order theory in order to investigate fuel droplet ignition and extinction characteristics in the presence of convective flow. Explanations for such a need, based on order of magnitude arguments, are included in this article. With a moving droplet, the shear at the interface causes circulatory motion inside the droplet. Owing to the large evaporation velocities at the droplet surface that usually accompany drop vaporization and burning, the entire flow field is not in the Stokes regime even for low translational Reynolds numbers. In view of this, the formulation for the continuous phase is developed by imposing slow translatory motion of the droplet as a perturbation to uniform radial flow associated with vigorous evaporation at the surface. Combustion is modelled by the inclusion of a fast chemical reaction in a thin reaction zone represented by the Burke-Schumann flame front. The complete solution for the problem correct to second order is obtained by simultaneously solving a coupled formulation for the dispersed and continuous phases. A noteworthy feature of the higher-order formulation is that both the flow field and transport equations require analysis by coupled singular perturbation procedures. The higher-order theory shows that, for identical conditions, compared with the first-order theory both the flame and the front stagnation point are closer to the surface of the drop, the evaporation is more vigorous, the droplet lifetime is shorter, and the internal vortical motion is asymmetric about the drop equatorial plane. These features are significant for ignition/extinction analyses since the prediction of the location of the point of ignition/extinction will depend upon such details. This article is the first of a two-part study; in the second part, analytical expressions and results obtained here will be incorporated into a detailed investigation of fuel droplet ignition and extinction. In view of the general nature of the formulation considered here, results presented have wider applicability in the general areas of interfacial fluid mechanics and heat/material transport. They are particularly useful in microgravity studies, in atmospheric sciences, in aerosol sciences, and in the prediction of material depletion from spherical particles.