The Universal Role of Turbulence in the Propagation of Strong Shocks and Detonation Waves

  • John Lee
Part of the Shock Wave and High Pressure Phenomena book series (SHOCKWAVE)


A shock wave is a steep compression wave that propagates at supersonic speeds relative to the medium ahead of it. In gases, the thickness of the shock transition zone ranges from the molecular mean free path (10−9 m) in a perfect gas to millimeters (10−3 m) when there are long relaxation and chemical processes involved in reaching the final equilibrium state of the shocked medimn. Thus, the shock thickness can cover a spectrum of length scale that differs by six orders of magnitude. For a strong shock, irreversible changes, i.e., plastic yield, fracture, phase transformations, molecular dissociations and ionizations, and chemical reactions, have affected the material behind the shock. The chemical reactions may be exothermic, producing a net increase in the internal energy of the reaction products. For a sufficiently exothermic reaction, the shock wave can be self-propagating, supported by the expansion work of the reaction products. Such self-propagating shock waves are referred to as detonation waves, and media capable of supporting a detonation wave are usually highly exothermic and the reaction rates are also sufficiently fast for the shock generated to be maintained by the expanding products. There is no fundamental difference between strong shocks and detonations except for the self-sustained nature of detonation waves.


Shock Wave Shock Front Detonation Wave Shock Compression Turbulent Structure 
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