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Combined PIV/PLIFmeasurements in a high-swirl fuel injector flowfield

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posted on 13.03.2013, 09:20 by Liangta Cheng
Current lean-premixed fuel injector designs have shown great potential in terms of reducing emissions of pollutants, but such designs are susceptible to combustion instabilities in which aerodynamic instability plays a major role and also has an effect on mixing of air and fuel. In comparison to prototype testing with combustors running in operating conditions, computational approaches such as Large Eddy Simulations (LES) offer a much more cost-effective alternative in the design stage. However, computational models employed by LES require validation by experimental data. This is one of the main motivations behind the present experimental study. Combined particle image velocimetry (PIV) and planar laser induced fluorescence (PLIF) instrumentation allowed simultaneous measurements of velocity vector and a conserved scalar introduced into the fuel stream. The results show that the inner swirl shear layer features two pairs of vortices, which draw high concentration fuel mixture from the central jet into the swirl stream and causes it to rotate in their wakes. Such periodic entrainment also occurs with the characteristic frequencies of the vortices. This has clear implications for temporal variations in fuel/air ratio in a combusting flow; these bursts of mixing, and hence heat release, could be a possible cause of mixing-induced pressure oscillation in combusting tests. For the first time in such a flow, all 3 components of the turbulent scalar flux were available for validation of LES-based predictions. A careful assessment of experimental errors, particularly the error associated with spatial filtering, was carried out. Comparison of LES predictions with experimental data showed very good agreement for both 1st and 2nd moment statistics, as well as spectra and scalar pdfs. It is particularly noteworthy that comparison between LES computed and measured scalar fluxes was very good; this represents successful validation of the simple (constant Schmidt number) SGS model used for this complex and practically important fuel injector flow. In addition to providing benchmark data for the validation of LES predictions, a new experimental technique has been developed that is capable of providing spatially resolved residence time data. Residence times of combustors have commonly been used to help understand NOx emissions and can also contribute to combustion instabilities. Both the time mean velocity and turbulence fields are important to the residence time, but determining the residence time via analysis of a measured velocity field is difficult due to the inherent unsteadiness and the three dimensional nature of a high-Re swirling flow. A more direct approach to measure residence time is reported here that examines the dynamic response of fuel concentration to a sudden cutoff in the fuel injection. Residence time measurement was mainly taken using a time-resolved PLIF technique, but a second camera for PIV was added to check that the step change does not alter the velocity field and the spectral content of the coherent structures. Characteristic timescales evaluated from the measurements are referred to as convection and half-life times: The former describes the time delay from a fuel injector exit reference point to a downstream point of interest, and the latter describes the rate of decay once the effect of the reduced scalar concentration at the injection source has been transported to the point of interest. Residence time is often defined as the time taken for a conserved scalar to reduce to half its initial value after injection is stopped: this is equivalent to the sum of the convection time and the half-life values. The technique was applied to a high-swirl fuel injector typical of that found in combustor applications. Two test cases have been studied: with central jet (with-jet) and without central jet (no-jet). It was found that the relatively unstable central recirculation zone of the no-jet case resulted in increased transport of fuel into the central region that is dominated by a precessing vortex core, where long half-life times are also found. Based on this, it was inferred that the no-jet case may be more prone to NOx production. The technique is described here for a single-phase isothermal flow field, but with consideration, it could be extended to studying reacting flows to provide more insight into important mixing phenomena and relevant timescales.



  • Aeronautical, Automotive, Chemical and Materials Engineering


  • Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering


© Liangta Cheng

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

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