Fizzle or Frazzle - Problems with Ignition

15 May 2008
John Brindley
The phenomenon of ignition is one with which we are all familiar, but which is remarkably difficult to define and model effectively. My own (description rather than definition) is “initiation of a (high temperature) self-sustaining exothermic process”; it may of course be desirable, as in your car’s engine, or highly undesirable, as the cause of many disastrous fires and explosions Both laboratory experiments and numerical simulations demonstrate its extreme sensitivity to external influences, past history and process (essentially chemical) kinetics, but at the heart of all instances there appears to be some “critical” unstable equilibrium state. Though some analytical modelling has been useful in particular cases, this remains in general virgin territory for applied mathematicians – perhaps there is room for some “knowledge transfer” here.
  • Differential Equations and Applications Seminar