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An isothermal experimental study of the unsteady fluid mechanics of gas turbine fuel injector flowfields

By Kris Midgley


A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.Low-emissions combustor design is crucially important to gas turbine engine\ud manufacturers. Unfortunately, many designs are susceptible to unsteady oscillations that\ud can result in structural fatigue and increased noise. Computational approaches that\ud resolve flow unsteadiness, for example Large Eddy Simulation (LES), are being explored\ud as one avenue to help understand such phenomena. However, in order to quantifY the\ud accuracy of LES predictions, benchmark validation data in suitably chosen test cases are\ud required. Comprehensive experimental data covering both time-averaged and timeresolved\ud features are currently scarce. It was the aim of this thesis, therefore, to provide\ud such data .in a configuration representing the near-field of a typical gas turbine fuel\ud injector. It was decided to focus on the fuel injector since many unsteady events are\ud believed to originate because of the transient interactions between the fuel injector flow\ud and the main combustor flow. A radial fed two-stream fuel injector, based on a preexisting\ud industrial gas-turbine Turbomeca design was used, since this geometry was\ud known to be susceptible to unsteadiness. The fuel injector was investigated under\ud isothermal conditions to place emphasis on the fluid mechanical behaviour of the fuel\ud injector, including detailed capture of any unsteady phenomena present. Light Sheet Imaging (LSI) systems were used as the primary experimental technique to\ud provide high quality spatially and temporally resolved instantaneous velocity and scalar\ud field information in 2D planes (using ParticieImage Velocimetry (PIV) and Planar LaserInduced\ud Fluorescence (PUF) techniques). Several methods were employed to extract\ud information quantifYing the flow unsteadiness and improve visualisation of timedependent\ud large-scale turbulent structures. Proper Orthogonal Decomposition (POD)\ud analysis enabled clear identification of the dominant modes of energy containing\ud structures. The results indicated that periodic high-energy containing vortex structures\ud occurred in the swirl stream shear layer, emerging from the fuel injector. These formed a\ud two-strong two-weak rotating vortex pattern which propagated down the main duct flow\ud path. The formation of these vortices was found to be a function of the swirl number and\ud originated due to an interaction between the forward moving swirl flow and the furthest\ud upstream penetration point ofthe recirculation zone present in the main duct flow. Dependent on the magnitude of the swirl number (influencing the swirl stream cone\ud angle) and the geometry of the fuel injector, the vortex formation point was sometimes\ud found inside the fuel injector itself. If the vortices originated inside the fuel injector they\ud appeared much more coherent in space and time and of higher energy. A second\ud unsteady high energy containing phenomenon was also identified, namely a Precessing\ud Vortex Core (PVC), which was damped out if the fuel injector contained a central jet.\ud The dynamics of the PVC interacted with the dynamics of the swirl stream shear layer\ud vortices to reduce there strength. Transient scalar measurements indicated that there was\ud a clear connection between the unsteady vortex pattern and the rate of mixing, resulting\ud in bursts of high heat release and is therefore identified as one source of combustor\ud oscillations. Future fuel injector designs need to pay close attention to these unsteady\ud features in selecting swirl number and internal geometry parameters

Topics: Gas turbine fuel injectors, Flow instabilities, Vortices, Precessing vortex core, Particle image velocimetry, Planar laser-induced fluorescence
Publisher: © K.K. Midgley
Year: 2005
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