In this 13-part series of articles, The Combustion Institute recognizes the 2021Distinguished Papers selected from among the scientific papers presented during the 38th International Symposium on Combustion. Congratulations to Curtis Metrow, Vahid Yousefi Asli Mozhdehe, and Gaby Ciccarelli for winning the DPA in the Detonations, Explosions, and Supersonic Combustion colloquium.

In their paper Detonation propagation across a stratified layer with a diffuse interface, Metrow, Yousefi, and Ciccarelli seek to understand how industrial explosions begin and progress in order to mitigate them. Industrial explosion safety is not only a practical concern, but the research is also fundamental for any scientist interested in the prediction and modelling of detonation propagation through nonuniform composition layers.  

The accidental release of a volatile fuel can produce a combustible gas mixture, that when ignited, can produce an explosion resulting in plant damage, injuries, and/or fatalities. In order to mitigate and prevent such explosions, Metrow, Yousefi, and Ciccarelli study explosions in more common nonuniform mixtures. In the past, explosions in a uniform mixture of fuel and air have been studied extensively. Currently, with an increased global interest in hydrogen gas as a fuel, the researchers saw the need to investigate detonation propagation in a nonuniform, hydrogen-based layer.  

Their investigation yielded visualization and cell structure data, which can be used to establish a correlation for detonation propagation in a nonuniform combustible layer. Furthermore, the findings can also be used to validate numerical codes that are typically used to simulate detonation propagation. Because the formation of a nonuniform layer is very common to most accidental releases of a reactive gas (both light and heavy), the insights from this study are critical in the prevention of such explosions.  

The research was carried out at Queen’s University’s Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering. The experiment itself was conducted in Dr. Ciccarelli’s Combustion Laboratory, and the simulations were carried out using the Queen’s Centre for Advanced Computing in Canada. 

Over 1,700 papers were submitted to the 38th International Symposium on Combustion. All papers were categorized into one of 13 colloquia, and then distributed to colloquium coordinators and co-chairs. Each paper was reviewed by at least three qualified individuals from a pool of over 1,000 peer scientific reviewers. Less than 50 percent of the papers submitted are accepted for presentation.  

Following the symposium, one paper presented in each colloquium is awarded the distinction of Distinguished Paper. Visit here to view the presentation. The 13 Distinguished Papers undergo committee review for consideration for the Silver Combustion MedalA paper selected for this honor exemplifies quality, achievement, and significance to advance a field of combustion science, and will be awarded during the 39th International Symposium in Vancouver, Canada.