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Numerical Analysis of Flow and Heat Transfer through a Lean Premixed Swirl Stabilized Combustor Nozzle
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While the gas turbine research community is continuously pursuing development of higher cyclic efficiency designs by increasing the combustor firing temperatures and thermally resistant turbine vane / blade materials, a simultaneous effort to reduce the emission levels of high temperature driven thermal NOX also needs to be addressed. Lean premixed combustion has been found as one of the solutions to these objectives. However, since less amount of air is available for backside cooling of liner walls, it becomes very important to characterize the convective heat transfer that occurs on the inside wall of the combustor liners. These studies were explored using laboratory scale experiments as well as numerical approaches for several inlet flow conditions under both non-reacting and reacting flows. These studies may be expected to provide valuable insights for the industrial design communities towards identifying thermal hot spot locations as well as in quantifying the heat transfer magnitude, thus aiding in effective designs of the liner walls. Lean premixed gas turbine combustor flows involve strongly coupled interactions between several aspects of physics such as the degree of swirl imparted by the inlet fuel nozzle, premixing of the fuel and incoming air, lean premixed combustion within the combustor domain, the interaction of swirling flow with combustion driven heat release resulting in flow dilation, the resulting pressure fluctuations leading to thermo-acoustic instabilities there by creating a feedback loop with incoming reactants resulting in flow instabilities leading to flame lift off, flame extinction etc. Hence understanding combustion driven swirling flow in combustors continues to be a topic of intense research. In the present study, numerical predictions of swirl driven combustor flows were analyzed for a specific swirl number of an industrial fuel nozzle (swirler) using a commercial computational fluid dynamics tool and compared against in-house experimental data. The latter data was obtained from a newly developed test rig at Applied Propulsion and Power Laboratory (APPL) at Virginia Tech. The simulations were performed and investigated for several flow Reynolds numbers under non-reacting condition using various two equation turbulence models as well as a scale resolving model. The work was also extended to reacting flow modeling (using a partially premixed model) for a specific Reynolds number. These efforts were carried out in order investigate the flow behavior and also characterize convective heat transfer along the combustor wall (liner). Additionally, several parametric studies were performed towards investigating the effect of combustor geometry on swirling flow and liner hear transfer; and also to investigate the effect of inlet swirl on the jet impingement location along the liner wall under both non-reacting as well as reacting conditions. The numerical results show detailed comparison against experiments for swirling flow profiles within the combustor under reacting conditions indicating a good reliability of steady state modeling approaches for reacting conditions; however, the limitations of steady state RANS turbulence models were observed for non-reacting swirling flow conditions, where the flow profiles deviate from experimental observations in the central recirculation region. Also, the numerical comparison of liner wall heat transfer characteristics against experiments showed a sensitivity to Reynolds numbers. These studies offer to provide preliminary insights of RANS predictions based on commercial CFD tools in predicting swirling, non-reacting and reacting flow and heat transfer. They can be extended to reacting flow heat transfer studies in future and also may be upgraded to unsteady LES predictions to complement future experimental observations conducted at the in-house test facility.
- Doctoral Dissertations