Active Suppression of Vortex-Driven Combustion Instability Using Controlled Liquid-Fuel Injection

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Combustion instabilities remain one of the most challenging problems encountered in developing propulsion and power systems. Large amplitude pressure oscillations, driven by unsteady heat release, can produce numerous detrimental effects.

Most previous active control studies utilized gaseous fuels to suppress combustion instabilities. However, using liquid fuel to suppress combustion instabilities is more realistic for propulsion applications. Active instability suppression in vortex-driven combustors using a direct liquid fuel injection strategy was theoretically established and experimentally demonstrated in this dissertation work.

Droplet size measurements revealed that with pulsed fuel injection management, fuel droplet size could be modulated periodically. Consequently, desired heat release fluctuation could be created. If this oscillatory heat release is coupled with the natural pressure oscillation in an out of phase manner, combustion instabilities can be suppressed.

To identify proper locations of supplying additional liquid fuel for the purpose of achieving control, the natural heat release pattern in a vortex-driven combustor was characterized in this study. It was found that at high Damköhler number oscillatory heat release pattern closely followed the evolving vortex front. However, when Damköhler number became close to unity, heat release fluctuation wave no longer coincided with the coherent structures. A heat release deficit area was found near the dump plane when combustor was operated in lean premixed conditions.

Active combustion instability suppression experiments were performed in a dump combustor using a controlled liquid fuel injection strategy. High-speed Schlieren results illustrated that vortex shedding plays an important role in maintaining self-sustained combustion instabilities. Complete combustion instability control requires total suppression of these large-scale coherent structures. The sound pressure level at the excited dominant frequency was reduced by more than 20 dB with controlled liquid fuel injection method.

Scaling issues were also investigated in this dump combustor to test the effectiveness of using pulsed liquid fuel injection strategies to suppress instabilities at higher power output conditions. With the liquid fuel injection control method, it was possible to suppress strong instabilities with initial amplitude of 5 psi down to the background noise level. The stable combustor operating range was also expanded from equivalence ratio of 0.75 to beyond 0.9.