Chemical front propagation in periodic flows: FKPP versus G

Alexandra Tzella, Jacques Vanneste

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Abstract

We investigate the influence of steady periodic flows on the propagation of chemical fronts in an infinite channel domain. We focus on the sharp front arising in Fisher-Kolmogorov-Petrovskii-Piskunov (FKPP) type models in the limit of small molecular diffusivity and fast reaction (large Peclet and Damkohler numbers, Pe and Da) and on its heuristic approximation by the G equation. We introduce a variational formulation that expresses the two front speeds in terms of periodic trajectories minimizing the time of travel across the period of the flow, under a constraint that differs between the FKPP and G equations. This formulation makes it plain that the FKPP front speed is greater than or equal to the G equation front speed. We study the two front speeds for a class of cellular vortex flows used in experiments. Using a numerical implementation of the variational formulation, we show that the differences between the two front speeds are modest for a broad range of parameters. However, large differences appear when a strong mean flow opposes front propagation; in particular, we identify a range of parameters for which FKPP fronts can propagate against the flow while G fronts cannot. We verify our computations against closed-form expressions derived for Da ll Pe and for Da gg Pe.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131–152
Number of pages22
JournalSIAM Journal on Applied Mathematics
Volume79
Issue number1
Early online date30 Jan 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Keywords

  • front propagation
  • large deviations
  • WKB
  • cellular flows
  • Hamilton-Jacobi
  • homegenisation
  • variational principles

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