An extension to the theory of detonation shock dynamics is made and new propagation laws are derived for steady, near-CJ (Chapman–Jouguet), weakly curved detonations for a chain-branching reaction model having two components. The first is a thermally neutral induction stage governed by an Arrhenius reaction with a large activation energy, which terminates at a location called the transition interface, where instantaneous conversion of fuel into an intermediate species (chain radical) occurs. The second is an exothermic main reaction layer (or chain-recombination zone) having a temperature-independent reaction rate. We make an ansatz that the shock curvature is sufficiently large to have a leading-order influence on the induction zone structure, whereupon it is shown that multi-dimensional effects must necessarily be accounted for in the main reaction layer. Only for exactly cylindrical or spherical waves can such multi-dimensional effects be omitted. A requirement that the main reaction layer structure pass smoothly through a sonic plane leads to a propagation law for the detonation front: a relationship between the detonation velocity, the shock curvature and various shock arclength derivatives of the position of the transition interface.
For exactly cylindrically or spherically expanding waves, a multi-valued detonation velocity–curvature relationship is found, similar to that found previously for a state-sensitive one-step reaction. The change in this relationship is investigated as the ratio of the length of the main reaction layer to the induction layer is changed. We also discuss the implications of chain-branching reaction kinetics for the prediction of critical detonation initiation energy based on detonation-velocity curvature laws. Finally several calculations that illustrate the important effect that arclength and transverse flow variations may have on the steady propagation of non-planar detonation fronts are presented. Such variations may be important for the propagation of cellular gaseous detonation fronts and for the axial propagation of detonations in a cylindrical stick of condensed-phase explosive. We also show that the arclength variations provide a formal mechanism for the existence of steady non-planar detonation fronts having converging sections, a possibility ruled out for simple irreversible one-step reaction mechanisms where only diverging steady waves are admissible.