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 Charlélie Laurent, Gabriel Staffelbach, Franck Nicoud, and Thierry Poinsot for winning the DPA in the Gas Turbine and Rocket Engine Combustion colloquium. 

The pioneering paper Heat-release dynamics in a doubly-transcritical LO2/LCH4 cryogenic coaxial jet flame subjected to fuel inflow acoustic modulation provides both a quantitative evaluation of the dynamics of flames in methane-oxygen liquid rocket engine conditions, as well as a theoretical analysis of the numerical results. Researchers Laurent, StaffelbachNicoud, and Poinsot were motivated to conduct this research due to the increasing global access to space, a result of cheaper, reusable space-launchers; for example, SpaceX’s Falcon 9. These space-launchers have highly flexible rocket engines, the design of which requires a thorough understanding of combustion dynamics in order to predict and prevent potential damage to the engine. Therefore, the goal of their research was tstudy and model the flame dynamics in a methane-oxygen combustor that models the liquid rocket engines that will be deployed in the next one to two decades.

The study of flame dynamics is crucial to the field of gas turbine and rocket engine combustion because they are the driving mechanism that contributes to the occurrence of thermoacoustic instabilities, and often, the destruction of engines. The issue of flame dynamics is generally well-studied in the context of gas turbine combustion, but this research team sought to fill the current research gap: the study of flame dynamics and fluctuations in rocket engines. Due to the inherent difficulty of simulating such extreme systems, this paper is one of the first to use high-fidelity simulations to fully and quantitatively model flame dynamics in conditions similar to that of a realistic rocket engine 

The researchers hope their findings might facilitate the prediction of thermoacoustic instabilities in future rocket engines propelling reusable space launchers, resulting in cheaper, safer, more maneuverable, and more versatile space launchers. These space launchers are currently under development, with predicted deployments in the next 20 years; hopefully, these findings directly benefit the future’s scientists and industrial actors. By freely sharing their data, Laurent, StaffelbachNicoud, and Poinsot actively invite other scientists to engage with and strengthen their proposed models and findings 

The research took place at CERFACS, Toulouse, France in 2018 and 2019. The numerical simulations were performed on the Joliot-Curie supercomputer, hosted by the CEA (Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique, France), and awarded through PRACE. 

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 Medal. A 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 Symposiumin Vancouver, Canada.