Flame behavior in an annular diverging tube (ADT) consisting of an outer quartz tube and a tapered inner core column was investigated as a basic model for small combustion devices of various combustion space scales. Flames can be stabilized at suitable locations where the mean flow velocity is matched to the spatial average propagation velocity (SAPV). Transient variations of wall temperature and the SAPV were compared for various experimental parameters: inner core materials, burner configurations, and flow rates. It was found that a critical propagation velocity (CPV) exists that is least affected by the flow rates. The CPVs of methane, propane, and dimethyl ether (DME) were measured and a good agreement was shown between the measured CPVs and the laminar burning velocities presented in the literatures. Therefore, the ADT method can be a model for small combustion devices of various combustion space scales; furthermore, this study can be beneficial in designing and operating small combustion devices. The ADT method can also be applied in the field for in situ monitoring of the burning velocities. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.