Flame stabilization by a plasma driven radical jet in a high speed flow
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In current afterburners combustion is stabilized by the high temperature, recirculating region behind bluff body flame holders, such as V-gutters. Blocking the high speed flow with bluff bodies causes a significant pressure drop, and heating the flame holder by the hot combustion product causes a thermal signature, which is a critical problem in a military jet. To reduce these problems, ignition methods using a high frequency (HF) spark discharge, or a radical jet generator (RJG) were developed. The HF discharge ignited and stabilized a flame successfully in a premixed methane-air flow. The electrical power consumption was very small compared to the combustion heat release, as long as the operating velocity was relatively low. However, a theoretical study showed that the ratio of the electrical power consumption to the heat generation by the stabilized flame increases rapidly with increasing flow velocity. For flame stabilization in a high velocity flow, the developed RJG showed much better performance than direct exposure to a plasma. The present study investigated the characteristics of a radical jet produced in a RJG and injected into a main combustor. The limits of flame stabilization by this jet was measured experimentally, and compared to those of bluff body flame holders. The flame holding performance of the radical jet was also experimentally compared to that of a thermal jet. The effect of radicals on flame stabilization was examined using CHEMKIN, and the limit of flame stabilization by the radical jet was estimated for a simple flow configuration using an approximate solution. The results suggest that the reduction of local spontaneous ignition delay time by active species in the radical jet and the longer length of a typical radical jet compared to the dimension of the recirculation zone behind a bluff body increases the maximum velocity at which a flame can be stabilized.