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Proceedings of Eurotherm78 – Computational Thermal Radiation in Participating Media II

5-7 April 2006, Poitiers, France


by C.B. da SILVA(*), I. MALICO(**) , P.J. COELHO(*) and J.C.F. PEREIRA(*)

(*)Instituto Superior Técnico, Technical University of Lisbon, Mechanical Engineering Department

Avenida Rovisco Pais, 1049-001 Lisboa, Portugal.
(**)Universidade de Évora, Physics Department, R. Romão Ramalho, 59, 7000-671 Évora, Portugal.

A fundamental study of radiation statistics in homogeneous isotropic turbulence is presented. A
pseudo-spectral code is used to simulate isotropic turbulence by means of DNS of the full Navier-
Stokes equations. The instantaneous scalar data is used to calculate the radiation intensity along a line
of sight using the statistical narrow band model. The mean, variance, skewness and flatness of
radiation intensity were obtained for conditions observed downstream of the flame tip of a piloted
turbulent jet flame, where homogeneous isotropic turbulence is likely to be present. The joint
probability density function between the temperature and the radiation intensity is presented, as well
as the spectra for the radiation intensity. The present one way coupling philosophy used to connect
isotropic turbulence data with radiation computations shows the correct trends and allows one to study
the detailed effects of the turbulent characteristics upon the structure of the radiation intensity field.

Nomenclature s Coordinate along an optical

D Diameter path Subscripts
E Energy spectrum S Skewness b blackbody
F Flateness Sc Schmidt number eq equivalent
I Radiation intensity tref Reference time in the DNS rad radiation
k Parameter of SNB model data bank ref reference
kp Wave number where T Temperature s species
forcing is applied Vc Characteristic velocity λ Taylor microscale
kmax Maximum resolved wave x Molar fraction; ν wavenumber;
number Axial coordinate molecular viscosity
K Wave number vector
L Size of the computational Greek symbols
box for isotropic γ/δ Parameter of SNB model
turbulence ∆ν Narrow band width
L11 Turbulence integral scale ε Dissipation rate of turbulent
N Number of grid nodes kinetic energy
along an optical path η Kolmogorov micro-scale
p Total pressure ηB Batchelor micro-scale
P Forcing intensity κ Absorption coefficient
r Radial coordinate σ Stefan-Boltzman constant
Reλ Reynolds number τ Transmissivity
1. Introduction
Most flows of practical relevance are turbulent. In some of them, radiative heat transfer
plays an important role, e.g., in most combustion equipment (furnaces, boilers, engines) and
in forest and urban fires. Presently, it is widely accepted that the interaction between
turbulence and radiation (TRI) yields a significant increase of the radiative heat fluxes in
comparison with laminar flows. It has been reported that TRI may enhance mean radiation
levels by more than 100% in comparison with estimates based on mean scalar properties (see,
e.g., [1]). However, our knowledge about such interaction is rather limited. As a consequence,
the interaction between turbulence and combustion is often ignored or accounted for by
assuming that it is only due to the influence of temperature fluctuations on the emissive power
of the medium.
A more accurate approach to account for the TRI requires the solution of the radiative heat
transfer equation with the mean radiation intensity as the dependent variable. Still, there are
no models to approximate the correlation between fluctuations of the radiation intensity and
fluctuations of the absorption coefficient. This correlation is generally ignored, assuming that
the individual eddies are homogeneous, optically thin and statistically independent. This is the
so-called optically thin eddy approximation. Nevertheless, the error of this approximation is
unknown. It has been claimed that the error introduced by this approximation is small, even if
it does not hold for wavelengths in the vicinity of the centre of the most important absorption
bands of radiatively participating gaseous species.
Another powerful method to account for the TRI consists of the solution of the radiative
transfer equation for instantaneous values of scalars (temperature and species concentrations).
This requires a sufficiently large number of solutions based on instantaneous scalar
distributions to ensure statistically meaningful results. Moreover, the instantaneous scalar
distributions are not available, and need to be generated in such a way that the mean values,
variance and relevant spatial and temporal auto-correlations and cross-correlations are
satisfied. Stochastic models for the generation of time series of scalar distributions have been
developed for this purpose [1-6]. The large number of realizations implied by the stochastic
methods prevents their application to practical engineering calculations.
Direct numerical simulation (DNS) is a powerful tool to provide fundamental and reliable
insight on turbulent flows, although it cannot be applied to engineering calculations owing to
the computational requirements. Homogeneous isotropic turbulence consists in the simplest
possible flow configuration in which the Navier-Stokes equations are solved in a box with
periodic boundary conditions in the three spatial directions. Instantaneous fields from DNS of
isotropic turbulence have shown the existence of intense regions of vorticity in the form of
tubes (“worms”) with radii and length of the order of the Kolmogorov and integral scales,
respectively [7-8]. DNS of isotropic turbulence has been used to study some detailed aspects
of turbulence physics, e.g., recent works tested the hypothesis underlying the Kolmogorov-
Obukhov theory [9], and analyzed the local energy cascade in the inertial range [10]. Other
works used DNS of isotropic turbulence to develop and assess new turbulence models [11].
More recently, some works used direct numerical simulations of isotropic turbulence to study
fundamental issues related to combustion, e.g. the analysis of flamelets in premixed turbulent
combustion [12].
Recently, DNS has been used to investigate TRI in a premixed combustion system [13]. In
the present study, a classical pseudo-spectral code for the simulation of isotropic turbulence
[14] is used, which allows the computation of forced and freely decaying isotropic turbulence
by means of DNS of the full Navier-Stokes equations. The DNS fields are completely
characterised by their variance and by the shape of their three-dimensional spectrum for the
kinetic energy, temperature and the concentration of chemical species. The instantaneous
fields of temperature and chemical species are used as input data for the calculation of the
radiation intensity. A statistical narrow band model (SNB) is employed to compute the
radiative properties of the medium. This allows the calculation of statistical data of the
radiation intensity field, namely the mean, variance, skewness and flatness of radiation
intensity, joint probability density function between the temperature and the radiation
intensity and spectra for the radiation intensity. The present paper presents and discusses this
statistical information. The goal here is to prepare the ground for future works where the
effects of the turbulent statistics on the radiative properties of the medium will be thoroughly

2. Direct numerical simulation of isotropic turbulence

The numerical code used in the present DNS simulations is a standard pseudo-spectral
code in which the temporal advancement is made with an explicit 3rd order Runge-Kutta
scheme. The physical domain consists in a periodic cubic box of side 2π and the simulations
were fully dealised using the 3/2 rule.
The instantaneous field of a passive scalar is taken from a DNS simulation of statistically
steady (forced) homogeneous isotropic turbulence using N = 192 collocation points in each
direction. Table 1 lists the details of the simulation. Both the velocity and scalar large scales
were forced in order to sustain the turbulence using the method described by Alvelius [15].
The forcing was imposed on 3 wave numbers concentrated on kp = 3. The same data bank was
recently used by da Silva and Pereira [14]. After an initial transient that lasts about 10 tref,
where tref = (Vc kp)-1, Vc = (P/kp)1/3, and P is the forcing intensity [15], the flow reaches a state
where all the turbulence quantities are statistically stationary. The analysis was made using 10
instantaneous fields taken from this region, separated by about 0.5 tref.
Notice that L > 4 L11 in all simulations, where L is the box size and L11 is the integral scale,
so that the size of the computational domain does not affect the larger flow structures [16].
Also, to ensure a good resolution of the dissipative scales we have kmax η > 1.5 and kmax
ηΒ > 1.5 in all simulations, as recommended by Pope [16], where η = (ν3/ε)1/4 and ηB =
η/Sc1/2 are the Kolmogorov and Batchelor micro-scales, respectively.
Figure 1 shows the kinetic energy spectra for the present simulation. That the dissipative
scales are indeed being well resolved is attested by the small upturn at the end of the wave
number range. The velocity spectrum has a –5/3 range which shows the existence of an
inertial range region. Moreover, the values of the skewness and flatness of the velocity
derivative oscillate around about -0.5 and 4.0 respectively, and are quite close to the ones of
Jimenez et al. [8] for similar Reynolds numbers.

Reλ ν Sc kmax η kmax ηΒ L11 η ηB S F Smix

95.6 0.006 0.7 1.8 2.1 1.24 2.8×10-2 3.3×10-2 -0.49 +4.63 -0.46
Table 1 - Details of the direct numerical simulation (Reλ - Reynolds number based on the
Taylor micro-scale and r.m.s. of the velocity fluctuations; S - Skewness of the velocity
derivative; F - Flatness of the velocity derivative; S mix = S (∂ u ∂ x ) (∂ θ ∂ x )2 - Mixed
derivative skewness).

106 Reλ=95.6





0.5 1 1.5 2

Fig 1. Energy spectrum for the present simulation.

3. Radiative transfer calculations

The radiative transfer equation for a non-scattering medium may be written as
d Iν
= −κν Iν + κν I bν (1)

After some algebra, the integration of this equation along a line of sight yields [17]
⎛ s ⎞ s ⎛ s ⎞
Iν (s ) = Iν (0 ) exp⎜ −
⎝ ∫0 κν (s ′) ds ′ ⎟ +
⎠ ∫0 I bν (s ′) κν (s ′) exp⎜ −
⎝ ∫ s′ κν (s′′) ds′′ ⎟⎠ ds′ (2)

This equation may be rewritten in terms of the transmissivity of the medium as follows:
s ∂ τ ν (s ′ → s )
Iν (s ) = Iν (0 ) τ ν (0 → s ) + ∫0 I bν ( s ′ )
∂ s′
ds ′ (3)

In the present work, the radiative properties of the medium are evaluated using the SNB
model [18]. Moreover, a cold boundary is assumed, i.e. Iν(0) = 0. Therefore, Eq. (3) is
integrated over a narrow band, so that the mean radiation intensity over a narrow band of
width ∆ν is given by
1 s ∂ τ ∆ν (s ′ → s )
I ∆ν (s ) =
∆ν ∫∆ν Iν (s ) dν = ∫0 I b,∆ν (s ′)
∂ s′
ds ′ (4)

In the case of a homogeneous gas layer at total pressure p, the mean transmissivity is given
by [18]
⎡ γ ⎛ δ ⎞⎤
τ ∆ν (0 → s ) = exp ⎢− 2 ⎜ 1 + x s p s k − 1⎟⎥
⎜ ⎟ (5)
⎢⎣ δ ⎝ γ ⎠⎥⎦
where k and 1/δ are parameters of the model, which were taken from the data of Soufiani and
Taine [19]. For a given absorbing species, these parameters are tabulated as a function of
temperature and spectral location. The parameter γ is a function of temperature, pressure and
species concentration, also given in [19]. In the case of a non-homogeneous medium, the
Curtis-Godson approximation [20] is employed, and Eq. (5) is modified as follows
⎡ ⎞⎤
⎛γ ⎞ ⎛ k eq u
τ ∆ν (0 → s ) = exp ⎢− 2 ⎜ ⎟ ⎜ 1 + − 1⎟⎥ (6)
⎢ ⎝ δ ⎠ eq ⎜ (γ δ )eq ⎟⎥
⎝ ⎠⎦

u= ∫ 0 xs p ds (7a)

s s

k eq =
∫ x p k ds = ∫
x s p k ds
∫ x p ds 0

x s p k (γ δ ) ds x s p k (γ δ ) ds
s s

⎛γ ⎞ ∫ 0 ∫ 0
⎜ ⎟ = = (7c)
⎝ δ ⎠ eq
∫ 0
x s p k ds k eq u

The integrals in Eqs. (4) and (7) are numerically evaluated using Simpson’s rule, and the
parameters k and 1/δ are interpolated from the tabulated data using cubic splines. This keeps
the order of accuracy of the numerically evaluated radiation intensity consistent with the
order of accuracy of the DNS solver. Therefore, Eq. (4) is discretized as
N ( )
I b,∆ν (s n ) + 4 I b,∆ν s n+1 2 + I b,∆ν (s n+1 )
I ∆ν (s N +1 ) = ∑ 6
n =1
[τ ∆ν (s n+1 → s N +1 ) − τ ∆ν (sn → s N +1 )]
where N is the total number of grid points along the optical path in the DNS calculations. In
the DNS calculations, the boundaries of the computational domain are periodic. Therefore,
the instantaneous scalar data at the first point n =1, where the radiation intensity is
determined, are identical to those at n = N+1. The temperature and the species concentration
at points sn+1/2 are not available, and so they are interpolated from the DNS data using again
cubic splines.
In order to rescale the data from isotropic turbulence simulations obtained in a cubic box
of side 2π into a radiation domain with a different size, kinematic similarity between the two
flows was assumed. Therefore, the temperature field used in the radiation computations,
r r
Trad( x ), was determined using the temperature field from the DNS data, <TDNS( x )>, through

r r r ′2 >
< Trad
Trad ( x ) =< Trad ( x ) > +TDNS ( x ) (9)
′2 >

r r
where <Trad( x )> is the mean temperature at point x , and < Trad ′ 2 > and < TDNS
′ 2 > are the
variances of the temperature fields from the radiation and from the isotropic turbulence
simulation, respectively. Similarly, for the field of the molar fraction of the absorbing species,
we use
r r r < x ′s2,rad >
x s ,rad ( x ) =< x s ,rad ( x ) > + x s , DNS ( x ) (10)
< x ′s2,DNS >

It was assumed that the temperature and the absorbing species fields are fully correlated.
This is consistent with combustion models that relate the instantaneous thermochemical state
of the gaseous mixture to a single scalar, typically mixture fraction, e.g., the laminar flamelet
model. Accordingly, the same scalar field from the DNS calculations was used to prescribe
r r
both temperature and molar fraction of the absorbing species, by setting TDNS( x ) = xs,DNS( x ).
The selection of the size of the radiation domain, also taken as a cubic box, is not so
straightforward. Here, the size of the radiation domain was chosen in such a way that the ratio
of the size of the box in the DNS calculations to the integral length scale, L11, is equal to the
ratio of the size of the radiation domain to the integral length scale in the radiation
calculations. The implications of this choice deserve further examination, which will be
investigated in the future.

4. Results and discussion

The present radiative transfer results were obtained using mean and rms temperature and
CO2 molar fractions, as well as the integral length scale, experimentally available for a piloted
CH4/air turbulent jet diffusion flame, the so-called flame D [21-23]. Although radiation from
H2O could easily be included in the calculations, only radiation from CO2 is considered here.
The data at x/D = 75 was used. This station is located downstream of the flame tip, and it is
the station at a largest distance from the burner exit where experimental data is available.
Hence, this is where homogeneous isotropic turbulence is more likely to be found. The
experimental data reveals a very strong correlation between the temperature and the CO2
molar fraction, which supports the assumption mentioned above that these variables are fully
It is important to stress that the values predicted here cannot be compared with the
measurements and predictions reported in [23], not only because the radiation from H2O was
not taken into account in the present work, but also because the values in that reference were
obtained for the actual flame, i.e., the mean temperature and the species concentration change
along the optical path in the radial direction. On the contrary, the present values are obtained
assuming that the mean temperature and CO2 concentration taken from the measurements at a
fixed r/D remain unchanged along the optical path, and only the instantaneous values change.
This is consistent with the direct numerical simulation of homogeneous isotropic turbulence.
Under the conditions of homogeneous and isotropic turbulence, the statistical data
computed from a temporal series of scalar data along a single optical path parallel to a
coordinate axis is identical to the statistical data calculated from all optical paths parallel to
the coordinate axes at a given time. The statistical data reported below was obtained from the
DNS data at a given time, using all the available optical paths parallel to the coordinate axes,
which are statistically indistinguishable. This means that 3×N2 ≈ 1.1×104 samples are used to
obtain the results described below.
Radiation statistics are computed for the mean spectral radiation intensity over a
narrowband of width 25 cm-1, centred at 2.7 µm, for an optical path parallel to a coordinate
axis, evaluated using Eq. (8). Hereafter, this mean spectral radiation intensity over a
narrowband is denoted by I, for the sake of simplicity. Additional calculations were
performed for the mean spectral radiation intensity over a narrow band centred at 4.3 mm, and
for the total radiation intensity. However, the results of these calculations are not shown here,
since they do not provide any additional useful information. Moreover, although experimental
radiation statistics, e.g., PDFs and power spectral densities, are available in the literature [1,
3, 23-26], they are not comparable with the present results, which are only applicable to
homogeneous isotropic turbulence.
Figure 2 shows the mean, variance, skewness and flatness of the mean spectral radiation
intensity over the narrowband centred at 2.7 µm. The flame D data at x/D=75 and at several
different radial locations was used to prescribe the mean scalar data. The variance of the
radiation intensity is defined by <I’2>, where the brackets represent an average over all the
samples from the radiation domain computations. The skewness of the radiation intensity is
given by
< I '3 >
S (I ) = (11)
< I '2 >3/ 2
and represents the degree of symmetry of the probability density function (PDF) of the
radiation intensity (S = 0 for a symmetric PDF). The flatness factor is defined by
< I '4 >
F (I ) = (12)
< I '2 > 2
and is a measure of the degree of intermittence of a given variable (F = 3 for a Gaussian

103 < I > [W/m2sr cm-1]

< I' 2 > [W2/m4sr2 cm-2]
1 F(I)







0 2 4 6 8 10

Fig 2. Mean, variance, skewness and flatness of radiation intensity as predicted by the present
model using the jet flame D data at x/D=75.
Both the mean and variance of the mean spectral radiation intensity over a narrowband
attain their maxima at the centre of the jet, where the temperature and CO2 concentration are
highest, as shown in Fig. 2. The temperature and the CO2 molar fraction decrease along the
radial direction in the flame, and so do <I> and <I’2>. However, the turbulence intensity,
taken as ′ 2 > < Trad > , increases along the radial direction. This implies an increase of
< Trad
the influence of turbulence on radiation as r/D increases, as shown in Table 2. This trend is
also observed in [23], although the values cannot be compared, as explained above.
If there were no fluctuations of the absorption coefficient of the medium, then the
temperature self-correlation would be fully responsible for the influence of turbulence on
radiation. The temperature self-correlation is given by [27]
<T4 > < T ′2 > < T ′3 > < T ′4 >
= 1+ 6 +4 + (13)
< T >4 < T >2 < T >3 < T >4
The two first terms on the right side are generally dominant. If the PDF of temperature is
Gaussian, then the third term on the right side is zero and the last one is equal to 3 ×
(< T ′ 2 >/<T>2)2. Table 2 confirms the importance of the temperature self-correlation, and
demonstrates that the fluctuations of the absorption coefficient of the medium contribute to
enhance the influence of turbulence on radiation. The mean spectral radiation intensity over a
narrowband increases by 34% due to turbulence at r/D = 0, while it increases by 92% at r/D =
8.33. This supports the results from [23, 25], who concluded that the investigation of flame
radiation along chord-like paths is important to understand TRI, providing a more challenging
test to predictive models than diametric paths.
The skewness and flatness, on the other hand, seem to increase slightly with r/D. At the
centreline, S(I)=0.44 and F(I)=2.8, whereas at r/D=8.33 we have S(I)=1.50 and F(I)=5.2. It is
not clear why the asymmetry and intermittency of the radiation intensity increase with the
distance from the flame axis.

r/ D ′ 2 > < Trad >

< Trad < T 4 > < T >4 (a)
< T 4 > < T >4 (b)
< I ′2 > < I >

0 0.183 1.200 1.204 0.340

2.78 0.226 1.306 1.314 0.430
5.56 0.307 1.565 1.592 0.631
8.33 0.343 1.706 1.748 0.916
Computed using first two terms of Eq. (13)
Computed using Eq. (13) and assuming a Gaussian PDF for the temperature
Table 2 – Temperature self-correlation and ratio of the rms to the mean spectral radiation
intensity over a narrowband.

Figure 3 shows the contour plots of temperature and blackbody radiation intensity obtained
from the DNS computations in the first (y,z) plane of the domain. The contours of the mean
spectral radiation intensity over the narrowband in the same plane are also shown using the
flame data at x/D = 75 and r = 0. The correlation coefficient between T and I is equal to about
50%. The correlation coefficients at other r/D locations are similar. It should be noticed that
the radiation intensity at a grid node in the first (y,z) plane depends on the temperature and
CO2 molar fraction along the optical path in x direction, and not only on the local properties.
Therefore, it is not surprising that this correlation is not very high.
To have a global picture of this result, Figure 4 shows the joint PDF of T and I from all the
available samples. In agreement with the previous results, the joint PDF of these quantities
shows that the correlation between them is associated with extreme events of both variables.
2 -1
T (K) Ib (W/m sr cm ) 2 -1
I (W/m sr cm )
1800 1.9E+05 0.18
1700 1.8E+05 0.17
1600 1.7E+05 0.16
1500 1.5E+05 0.15
1400 1.4E+05 0.14
1300 1.3E+05 0.13
1200 1.2E+05 0.12
1100 1.0E+05 0.11
1000 9.3E+04 0.1
900 8.0E+04 0.09
800 6.8E+04 0.08
5.6E+04 0.07
4.4E+04 0.06
3.1E+04 0.05
1.9E+04 0.04

Fig 3. Contours of temperature (left), blackbody radiation intensity (centre) and mean spectral
radiation intensity over a narrowband (right) in the first (y,z) plane of the domain.

I(W/m2 sr cm-1)




500 1000 1500

Fig 4. Joint PDF between the temperature and the mean spectral radiation intensity over a
narrowband obtained with data taken from three boundary planes of the turbulent box.

The spectrum for the mean spectral radiation intensity over a narrowband at x/D=75 and
for several radial locations of flame D is shown in figure 5. The spectrum E(K) is defined by
r r E(K2D ) r ' r
< Iˆ( K ' ) Iˆ( K ) >= δ (K + K ) (14)
π K2 D
r r
where Iˆ( K ) is the two dimensional Fourier transform of I ( x ) , given by
+∞ +∞ rr
r 1 r r r
Iˆ( K ) = ∫ ∫ I ( x ) exp(−ik .x )dKdx (15)
(2π ) 2
−∞ −∞

r r
and K = ( K1 , K 2 ) is the two-dimensional wave number vector of norm K = | K | . Thus, the
energy spectrum represents the spectral distribution of the energy associated to each wave
number. Figure 5 shows that the overall amount of radiative energy decreases with the radial
position, as expected, and in agreement with Fig. 2. It seems that the slope of the radiation
intensity spectrum, at the inertial range region, changes slightly with the distance from the jet
centreline. Moreover, the characteristic bump caused by the forcing at low wave numbers
seems to be attenuated near the jet centreline. These are only some of the issues we intend to
explore in future works.
0 r/D=0.0



E(K) 10




10 0 1 2
10 10 10

Fig 5. Spectra for the mean spectral radiation intensity over a narrowband for several radial
locations obtained with the present model using the flame D data at x/D=75.

5. Conclusion
Classical one point statistics, correlations and power spectra of radiation intensity were
computed from an idealized model combining direct numerical simulations of isotropic
turbulence, comprising temperature and concentration fields, coupled with radiative transfer
calculations. The statistics demonstrate that the turbulence has a strong influence on the
radiation for the studied cases, yielding an increase of radiation intensity due to turbulence
that ranges from 34% to 92%. The increase is largest away from the flame axis, where the
turbulence intensity is also highest. It is hopped that the numerical tools employed here, when
further exploited, will shed more light into the complex nature of the turbulence/radiation
interactions. In particular, the influence of the chemical composition of the medium, mean gas
temperature, Reynolds number, shape of the kinetic energy and temperature spectra, and
turbulence intensity will be investigated.

6. Acknowledgement
This work was developed within the framework of project POCI/EME/59879/2004, which
is financially supported by FCT-Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, programme POCI
2010 (29.82% of the funds from FEDER and 70.18% from OE).

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