Flow and Thermal Field Measurements in a Combustor Simulator Relevant to a Gas Turbine Aero-Engine

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Virginia Tech

The highly competitive gas turbine industry has been motivated by consumer demands for higher power-to-weight ratios, increased thermal efficiencies, and reliability while maintaining affordability. In its continual quest, the industry must continually try to raise the turbine inlet temperature, which according to the well-known Brayton cycle is key to higher engine efficiencies. The desire for increased turbine inlet temperatures creates an extremely harsh environment for the combustor liner in addition to the components downstream of the combustor. Shear layers between the dilution jets and the mainstream, as well as combustor liner film-cooling interactions create a complex mean flow field within the combustor, which is not easy to model. A completely uniform temperature and velocity profile at the combustor exit is desirable from the standpoint of reducing the secondary flows in the turbine. However, this seldom occurs due to a lack of thorough mixing within the combustor. Poor mixing results in non-uniformities, such as hot streaks, and allow non-combusted fuel to exit the combustor.

This investigation developed a database documenting the thermal and flow characteristics within a combustor simulator representative of the flowfield within a gas turbine aero-engine. Three- and two-component laser Doppler velocimeter measurements were completed to quantify the flow and turbulence fields, while a thermocouple rake was used to quantify the thermal fields.

The measured results show very high turbulence levels due to the dilution flow injection. Directly downstream of the dilution jets, an increased thickness in the film-cooling was noted with a fairly non-homogeneous temperature field across the combustor width. A highly turbulent shear layer was found at the leading edge of the dilution jets. Measurements also showed that a relatively extensive recirculation region existed downstream of the dilution jets. Despite the lack of film-cooling injection at the trailing edge of the dilution hole, there existed coolant flow indicative of a horse-shoe vortex wrapping around the jet. As a result of the dilution jet interaction with the mainstream flow, kidney-shaped thermal fields and counter-rotating vortices developed. These vortices serve to enhance combustor mixing.

Jets in Crossflow, Combustor Flow and Thermal Fields, Gas Turbines