Turbulent flame propagation characteristics of high hydrogen content fuels
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Increasingly stringent pollution and emission controls have caused a rise in the use of combustors operating under lean, premixed conditions. Operating lean (excess air) lowers the level of nitrous oxides (NOx) emitted to the environment. In addition, concerns over climate change due to increased carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and the need for energy independence in the United States have spurred interest in developing combustors capable of operating with a wide range of fuel compositions. One method to decrease the carbon footprint of modern combustors is the use of high hydrogen content (HHC) fuels. The objective of this research is to develop tools to better understand the physics of turbulent flame propagation in highly stretch sensitive premixed flames in order to predict their behavior at conditions realistic to the environment of gas turbine combustors. This thesis presents the results of an experimental study into the flame propagation characteristics of highly stretch-sensitive, turbulent premixed flames generated in a low swirl burner (LSB). This study uses a scaling law, developed in an earlier thesis from leading point concepts for turbulent premixed flames, to collapse turbulent flame speed data over a wide range of conditions. The flow and flame structure are characterized using high speed particle image velocimetry (PIV) over a wide range of fuel compositions, mean flow velocities, and turbulence levels. The first part of this study looks at turbulent flame speeds for these mixtures and applies the previously developed leading points scaling model in order to test its validity in an alternate geometry. The model was found to collapse the turbulent flame speed data over a wide range of fuel compositions and turbulence levels, giving merit to the leading points model as a method that can produce meaningful results with different geometries and turbulent flame speed definitions. The second part of this thesis examines flame front topologies and stretch statistics of these highly stretch sensitive, turbulent premixed flames. Instantaneous flame front locations and local flow velocities are used to calculate flame curvatures and tangential strain rates. Statistics of these two quantities are calculated both over the entire flame surface and also conditioned at the leading points of the flames. Results presented do not support the arguments made in the development of the leading points model. Only minor effects of fuel composition are noted on curvature statistics, which are mostly dominated by the turbulence. There is a stronger sensitivity for tangential strain rate statistics, however, time-averaged values are still well below the values hypothesized from the leading points model. The results of this study emphasize the importance of local flame topology measurements towards the development of predictive models of the turbulent flame speed.
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