Velocity and geometry of propagating fronts in complex convective flow fields

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American Physical Society


We numerically study the propagation of reacting fronts through three-dimensional flow fields composed of convection rolls that include time-independent cellular flow, spatiotemporally chaotic flow, and weakly turbulent flow. We quantify the asymptotic front velocity and determine its scaling with system parameters including the local angle of the convection rolls relative to the direction of front propagation. For cellular flow fields, the orientation of the convection rolls has a significant effect upon the front velocity and the front geometry remains relatively smooth. However, for chaotic and weakly turbulent flow fields, the front velocity depends upon the geometric complexity of the wrinkled front interface and does not depend significantly upon the local orientation of the convection rolls. Using the box counting dimension we find that the front interface is fractal for chaotic and weakly turbulent flows with a dimension that increases with flow complexity.