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A novel numerical algorithm for the simulation of transient combustion problems at low Mach and moderately high Reynolds numbers is presented. These problems are often characterized by the existence of a large disparity of length and time scales, resulting in the development of directional flow features, such as slender jets, boundary layers, mixing layers, or flame fronts. This makes local anisotropic adaptive techniques quite advantageous computationally. In this work we propose a local anisotropic refinement algorithm using, for the spatial discretization, unstructured triangular elements in a finite element framework. For the time integration, the problem is formulated in the context of semi-Lagrangian schemes, introducing the semi-Lagrange-Galerkin (SLG) technique as a better alternative to the classical semi-Lagrangian (SL) interpolation. The good performance of the numerical algorithm is illustrated by solving a canonical laminar combustion problem: the flame/vortex interaction. First, a premixed methane-air flame/vortex interaction with simplified transport and chemistry description (Test I) is considered. Results are found to be in excellent agreement with those in the literature, proving the superior performance of the SLG scheme when compared with the classical SL technique, and the advantage of using anisotropic adaptation instead of uniform meshes or isotropic mesh refinement. As a more realistic example, we then conduct simulations of non-premixed hydrogenair flame/ vortex interactions (Test II) using a more complex combustion model which involves state-of-the-art transport and chemical kinetics. In addition to the analysis of the numerical features, this second example allows us to perform a satisfactory comparison with experimental visualizations taken from the literature. (C) 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.