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Physics  2014 

Front propagation in cellular flows for fast reaction and small diffusivity

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevE.90.011001

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We investigate the influence of fluid flows on the propagation of chemical fronts arising in FKPP type models. We develop an asymptotic theory for the front speed in a cellular flow in the limit of small molecular diffusivity and fast reaction, i.e., large P\'eclet ($Pe$) and Damk\"ohler ($Da$) numbers. The front speed is expressed in terms of a periodic path -- an instanton -- that minimizes a certain functional. This leads to an efficient procedure to calculate the front speed, and to closed-form expressions for $(\log Pe)^{-1}\ll Da\ll Pe$ and for $Da\gg Pe$. Our theoretical predictions are compared with (i) numerical solutions of an eigenvalue problem and (ii) simulations of the advection--diffusion--reaction equation.


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