Effects of the reacting flowfield on combustion processes in a stagnation point reverse flow combustor
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The performance of dry, low NOx gas turbines, which employ lean premixed (or partially premixed) combustors, is often limited by combustor stability. To overcome this issue, a novel design, referred to as a Stagnation Point Reverse Flow (SPRF) combustor, has been recently demonstrated. The SPRF combustor has been shown to produce low NOx emissions with both gaseous and liquid fuels. The objective of this thesis is to elucidate the interactions between the flowfield and combustion processes in this combustor for gas- and liquid-fueled operation. This is achieved with experimental measurements employing various optical diagnostic techniques. These include Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV), chemiluminescence imaging, Planar Laser-Induced Fluorescence (PLIF) of OH radicals and laser scattering from liquid droplets. Velocity measurements in gas-fueled operation show that both nonreacting and reacting flows exhibit a stagnation region with low mean velocity and high turbulence intensities. The high shear between the forward and reverse flows causes significant recirculation resulting in enhanced entrainment and mixing of the returning product gases into the incoming reactant jet for the reacting flow cases, which enables stable operation of the combustor at very lean equivalence ratios. Nonpremixed operation produces a flowfield similar to premixed case except in the near-field region where high turbulence intensities result in significant fuel-air mixing before combustion occurs. Operation of the SPRF combustor with liquid Jet-A is also investigated experimentally. The results indicate that while the overall flow features are similar to the gas-fueled SPRF combustor, the combustion characteristics and NOx performance in liquid operation are strongly controlled by fuel dispersion and evaporation. Injecting the liquid at the exit of the air annulus results in a highly lifted flame, similar to nonpremixed gaseous operation. On the other hand, retracting the fuel injector well inside the air annulus produces a well-dispersed fuel pattern at the reactant inlet leading to a reduction of the equivalence ratio in the fuel consuming reaction zones. Since the effective Dahmkohler number increases with global equivalence ratio, the difference in NOx emissions is more pronounced at higher fuel-air ratios as the retracted injector lowers the relative mixing time compared to the flush case.