Phases and their Interfaces¶
Cantera simulations model interactions between and within different phases of matter, as described here.
For each phase that appears in a problem, a corresponding entry should be
present in the input file(s). There are several different types of entries,
corresponding to different types of phases, such as
liquid_vapor, among others. Phases are created
using one of the directives corresponding to an implemented phase type.
A map with the full listing of available phase types is provided at the ThermoPhase Class Reference. However, these phase types
share many common features, and so we will begin by discussing those aspects common to all entries
for phases. The
phase() class contains the features common to all phase types.
name field is a string that identifies the phase. It must not contain
any whitespace characters or reserved XML characters, and must be unique within
the file among all phase definitions of any type.
Phases are referenced by name when importing them into an application program, or when defining an interface between phases.
Declaring the Elements¶
The elements that may be present in the phase are declared in the elements
field. This must be a string of element symbols separated by spaces. Each symbol
must either match one listed in the database file
elements.xml, or else
match the symbol of an element entry defined elsewhere in the input file (See
the Elements and Species documentation).
elements.xml database contains most elements of the periodic table, with
their natural-abundance atomic masses. It also contains a few isotopes (D, Tr),
and an “element” for an electron (E). This pseudo-element can be used to specify
the composition of charged species. Note that two-character symbols should have
an uppercase first letter, and a lowercase second letter (e.g.
It should be noted that the order of the element symbols in the string determines the order in which they are stored internally by Cantera. For example, if a phase definition specifies the elements as:
then when this definition is imported by an application, element-specific properties will be ordered in the same way:
>>> import cantera as ct >>> gas = ct.Solution(source=s) >>> for n, elem in enumerate(gas.element_names): ... print(n, elem) 0 H 1 C 2 O 3 N 4 Ar
For some calculations, such as multi-phase chemical equilibrium, it is important to synchronize the elements among multiple phases, so that each phase contains the same elements with the same ordering. In such cases, simply use the same string in the elements field for all phases.
Defining the Species¶
The species in the phase are declared in the species field. They are not defined there, only declared. Species definitions may be imported from other files, or species may be defined locally using species entries elsewhere in the file.
If a single string of species symbols is given, then it is assumed that these are locally defined. For each one, a corresponding species entry must be present somewhere in the file, either preceding or following the phase entry. Note that the string may extend over multiple lines by delimiting it with triple quotes:
species='AR SI Si2 SiH SiH2 SiH3 SiH4' # include all species defined in this file species='all' # a multi-line species declaration species=""" H2 H O O2 OH H2O HO2 H2O2 C CH CH2 CH2(S) CH3 CH4 CO CO2 HCO CH2O CH2OH CH3O CH3OH C2H C2H2 C2H3 C2H4 C2H5 C2H6 HCCO CH2CO HCCOH N NH NH2 NH3 NNH NO NO2 N2O HNO CN HCN H2CN HCNN HCNO HOCN HNCO NCO N2 AR C3H7 C3H8 CH2CHO CH3CHO """
If the species are imported from another file, instead of being defined locally, then the string should begin with the file name (without extension), followed by a colon:
# import selected species from silicon.xml species="silicon: SI SI2 SIH SIH2 SIH3 SIH4 SI2H6" # import all species from silicon.xml species="silicon: all"
In this case, the species definitions will be taken from file
which must exist either in the local directory or somewhere on the Cantera
It is also possible to import species from several sources, or mix local definitions with imported ones, by specifying a sequence of strings:
species=["CL2 CL F F2 HF HCL", # defined in this file "air: O2 N2 NO", # imported from 'air.xml' "ions: CL- F-"] # imported from 'ions.xml'
Note that the strings must be separated by commas, and enclosed in square brackets or parentheses.
Declaring the Reactions¶
The reactions are declared in the
reactions field. Just as
with species, reactions may be defined locally in the file, or may be imported
from one or more other files. All reactions must only involve species that have
been declared for the phase.
Unlike species, reactions do not have a name, but do have an optional
field. If the
ID field is not assigned a value, then when the reaction entry
is read it will be assigned a four-digit string encoding the reaction number,
'0001' for the first reaction in the file, and incrementing
by one for each new reaction.
If all reactions defined locally in the input file are to be included in the
phase definition, then assign the
reactions field the string
If, on the other hand, only some of the reactions defined in the file are to be
included, then a range can be specified using the reaction
In determining which reactions to include, a lexical comparison of id strings is
performed. This means, for example, that
'nox-8' is greater than
'nox-24'. (If it is rewritten
'nox-08', however, then it would be lexically
Just as described above for species, reactions can be imported from another file, and reactions may be imported from several sources. Examples:
# import all reactions defined in this file reactions="all" # import all reactions defined in rxns.xml reactions="rxns: all" # import reactions 1-14 in rxns.xml reactions="rxns: 0001 to 0014" # import reactions from several sources reactions=["all", # all local reactions "gas: all", # all reactions in gas.xml "nox: n005 to n008"] # reactions 5 to 8 in nox.xml
The Kinetics Model¶
A kinetics model is a set of equations to use to compute reaction rates. In
most cases, each type of phase has an associated kinetics model that is used by
default, and so the
kinetics field does not need to be assigned a value. For
ideal_gas() entry has an associated kinetics model called
GasKinetics that implements mass-action kinetics, computes reverse rates
from thermochemistry for reversible reactions, and provides various
pressure-independent and pressure-dependent reaction types. Other models could
be implemented, and this field would then be used to select the desired
model. For now, the
kinetics field can be safely ignored.
The Transport Model¶
A transport model is a set of equations used to compute transport
ideal_gas() phases, multiple transport models are
available; the one desired can be selected by assigning a string to this
field. See Transport Models for more details.
The Initial State¶
The phase may be assigned an initial state to which it will be set when the
definition is imported into an application and an object created. This is done
by assigning field
initial_state an embedded entry of type
For example, I can set the initial state of an object representing air, using the following entry:
Most of the attributes defined here are “immutable,” meaning that once the definition has been
imported into an application, they cannot be changed by the application. For example, it is not
possible to change the elements or the species. The temperature, pressure, and composition, however,
are “mutable”—they can be changed. This is why the field defining the state is called the
initial_state; the object in the application will be initially set to this state, but it may be
changed at any time.
Complete example: Air¶
The full range of options described above are demonstrated below for an ideal
gas representing air. This entry comes directly from the
that is included with Cantera:
Now that we have seen how to define bulk, three-dimensional phases, we can describe the procedure to define an interface between phases. Cantera presently implements a simple model for an interface that treats it as a two-dimensional ideal solution of interfacial species.
The entry type for this interface model is
ideal_interface() (Additional interface models
may be added to allow non-ideal, coverage-dependent properties). Defining an interface is much like
defining a phase, but there are two new fields:
phasesfield specifies the bulk phases that participate in the heterogeneous reactions. In most cases this string will list one or two phases, but no limit is placed on the number.
site_densityfield is the number of adsorption sites per unit area.
Another new aspect is in the embedded
state() entry in the
initial_state field. When specifying the initial state of an interface, the
state() entry has a field coverages, which can be assigned a string
specifying the initial surface species coverages:
Special Processing Options¶
The options field is used to indicate how certain conditions should be handled when importing the phase definition. The options field may be assigned a string or a sequence of strings from the table below.
When importing species, skip any containing undeclared elements, rather than flagging them as an error.
When importing reactions, skip any containing undeclared species, rather than flagging them as an error.
When importing reactions with third body efficiencies, ignore any efficiencies for undeclared species, rather than flagging them as an error.
Disable the automatic adjustment of NASA polynomials to eliminate discontinuities in enthalpy and entropy at the midpoint temperature.
options field, it is possible to extract a sub-mechanism from a large
reaction mechanism, as follows:
ideal_gas(name='hydrogen_mech', elements='H O', species='gri30:all', reactions='gri30:all', options=('skip_undeclared_elements', 'skip_undeclared_species', 'skip_undeclared_third_bodies'))
If we import this into Matlab, for example, we get a gas mixture containing the 8 species (out of 53 total) that contain only H and O:
>> gas = Solution('gas.cti', 'hydrogen_mech') hydrogen_mech: temperature 0.001 K pressure 0.00412448 Pa density 0.001 kg/m^3 mean mol. weight 2.01588 amu 1 kg 1 kmol ----------- ------------ enthalpy -3.786e+006 -7.632e+006 J internal energy -3.786e+006 -7.632e+006 J entropy 6210.88 1.252e+004 J/K Gibbs function -3.786e+006 -7.632e+006 J heat capacity c_p 9669.19 1.949e+004 J/K heat capacity c_v 5544.7 1.118e+004 J/K X Y Chem. Pot. / RT ------------- ------------ ------------ H2 1 1 -917934 [ +7 minor] 0 0 >> eqs = reactionEqn(gas) eqs = '2 O + M <=> O2 + M' 'O + H + M <=> OH + M' 'O + H2 <=> H + OH' 'O + HO2 <=> OH + O2' 'O + H2O2 <=> OH + HO2' 'H + O2 + M <=> HO2 + M' 'H + 2 O2 <=> HO2 + O2' 'H + O2 + H2O <=> HO2 + H2O' 'H + O2 <=> O + OH' '2 H + M <=> H2 + M' '2 H + H2 <=> 2 H2' '2 H + H2O <=> H2 + H2O' 'H + OH + M <=> H2O + M' 'H + HO2 <=> O + H2O' 'H + HO2 <=> O2 + H2' 'H + HO2 <=> 2 OH' 'H + H2O2 <=> HO2 + H2' 'H + H2O2 <=> OH + H2O' 'OH + H2 <=> H + H2O' '2 OH (+ M) <=> H2O2 (+ M)' '2 OH <=> O + H2O' 'OH + HO2 <=> O2 + H2O' 'OH + H2O2 <=> HO2 + H2O' 'OH + H2O2 <=> HO2 + H2O' '2 HO2 <=> O2 + H2O2' '2 HO2 <=> O2 + H2O2' 'OH + HO2 <=> O2 + H2O'
R. J. Kee, F. M. Rupley, and J. A. Miller. Chemkin-II: A Fortran chemical kinetics package for the analysis of gasphase chemical kinetics. Technical Report SAND89-8009, Sandia National Laboratories, 1989.
G. Dixon-Lewis. Flame structure and flame reaction kinetics, II: Transport phenomena in multicomponent systems. Proc. Roy. Soc. A, 307:111—135, 1968.
R. J. Kee, M. E. Coltrin, P. Glarborg, and H. Zhu. Chemically Reacting Flow: Theory and Practice. 2nd Ed. John Wiley and Sons, 2017.