A method for aircraft afterburner combustion without flameholders
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State of the art aircraft afterburners employ spray bars to inject fuel and flameholders to stabilize the combustion process. Such afterburner designs significantly increase the length (and thus weight), pressure losses, and observability of the engine. This thesis presents a feasibility study of a compact prime and trigger (PAT) afterburner concept that eliminates the fuel spray bars and flameholders and, thus, eliminates the above-mentioned problems. In this concept, afterburner fuel is injected just upstream or in between the turbine stages. Downstream of the turbine stages, a low power pilot, or trigger , can be used to control the combustion process. The envisioned trigger for the PAT concept is a jet of product gas from ultra-rich hydrocarbon/air combustion that is injected through the afterburner liner. This partial oxidation (POx) gas, which consists mostly of H2, CO, and diluents, rapidly produces radicals and heat that accelerate the autoignition of the primed mixture and, thus, provide an anchor point for the afterburner combustion process. The objective of this research was to demonstrate the feasibility of the PAT concept by showing that (1) combustion of fuel injected within or upstream of turbine stages can occur only downstream of the turbine stages, and (2) the combustion zone is compact, stable and efficient. This was accomplished using two experimental facilities, a developed theoretical model, and Chemkin simulations. The first facility, termed the Afterburner Facility (AF), simulated the bulk flow temperature, velocity and O2 content through a turbojet combustor, turbine stage and afterburner. The second facility, termed the Propane Autoignition Combustor (PAC), was essentially a scaled-down, simplified version of the AF. The developed model was used to predict and interpret the AF results and to study the feasibility of the PAT concept at pressures outside the AF operating range. Finally, the Chemkin simulations were used to study the effect of several POx gas compositions on the afterburner combustion process.