RobertZhang_ThesisAAE_2019.pdf (47.53 MB)

Analysis Techniques for Characterizing High Power Turbulent Swirl Flames

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posted on 16.08.2019 by Robert Z Zhang
High speed laser diagnostics are performed in two vastly differing swirl combustors at conditions relevant for industrial gas turbines. This high quality data can not only be used to elucidate key features of the flow field but also for validation of computational models simulating turbulence, chemistry, and their interactions. The first combustor is a piloted lean premixed prevaporized arrangement common in aviation applications. Fueling parameters are varied and sensitivity towards the pilot flame is observed. Conditioning to the stagnation line demonstrates increased fluctuations of shear and rotation in the inner shear layer when the pilot fueling is reduced.

The second flame has a simpler configuration with a single swirler and combusting natural gas. Thermoacoustic instability coupled to a helical precessing vortex core is found at certain conditions. Sparse Dynamic Mode Decomposition and phase averaging is applied to the velocity fields to create a three dimensional reconstruction of the helical vortex core in a non-precessing reference frame. Heat release is found to be correlated to the interaction strength of the central recirculation bubble and the helical vortex core.

Finally, intermittent phenomena within a thermoacoustic instability are examined. The most prominent deviation is that the flame is observed to randomly lift and reattach. In addition, a convolutional neural network is employed to extract the morphology from otherwise qualitative OH species imaging. The average characteristics of the lifted and attached flame are compared and dramatic differences are found. All of the flow structures have been altered such as the precessing vortex core being greatly intensified during flame lift-off. Evaluating the average events before flame lift-off revealed the importance of conditions at the combustor inlet. However, evidence for a future reattachment event was only found with a less spatially confined perspective. In addition, transition to lift-off was very sudden while reattachment was far slower.


Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy


Aeronautics and Astronautics

Campus location

West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Robert Lucht

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee co-chair

Carson Slabaugh

Additional Committee Member 2

Carlo Scalo

Additional Committee Member 3

Timothée Pourpoint