Department of Mathematics
University of Chicago
Joint work with P. Constantin, A. Kiselev and A. Oberman.
We consider a passive scalar that is advected by a prescribed mean zero divergence-free velocity field, diffuses, and reacts according to a KPP-type nonlinear reaction. We introduce a quantity, the bulk burning rate, that makes both mathematical and physical sense in general situations and extends the notion of front speed. We establish rigorous lower bounds for the bulk burning rate that are linear in the amplitude of the advecting velocity for a large class of flows. These "percolating" flows are characterized by the presence of tubes of streamlines connecting distant regions of burned and unburned material and generalize shear flows. The bound contains geometric information on the velocity streamlines and degenerates when these oscillate on scales that are finer than the width of the laminar burning region.