Laser-based Diagnostics and Numerical Simulations of Syngas Combustion in a Trapped Vortex Combustor
Syngas consisting mainly of a mixture of carbon monoxide, hydrogen and other diluents, is an important fuel for power generation applications since it can be obtained from both biomass and coal gasification. Clean coal technologies require stable and efficient operation of syngas-fired gas turbines. The trapped vortex combustor (TVC) is a relatively new gas turbine combustor concept which shows tremendous potential in achieving stable combustion under wide operating conditions with low emissions. In the present work, combustion of low calorific value syngas in a TVC has been studied using in-situ laser diagnostic techniques and numerical modeling. Specifically, this work reports in-situ measurements of mixture fraction, OH radical concentration and velocity in a single cavity TVC, using state-of-the art laser diagnostic techniques such as Planar Laser-induced Fluorescence (PLIF) and Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV). Numerical simulations using the unsteady Reynolds-averaged Navier-Stokes (URANS) and Large Eddy Simulation (LES) approaches have also been carried out to complement the experimental measurements. The fuel-air momentum flux ratio (MFR), where the air momentum corresponds to that entering the cavity through a specially-incorporated flow guide vane, is used to characterize the mixing. Acetone PLIF experiments show that at high MFRs, the fuel-air mixing in the cavity is very minimal and is enhanced as the MFR reduces, due to a favourable vortex formation in the cavity, which is corroborated by PIV measurements. Reacting flow PIV measurements which differ substantially from the non-reacting cases primarily because of the gas expansion due to heat release show that the vortex is displaced from the centre of the cavity towards the guide vane. The MFR was hence identified as the controlling parameter for mixing in the cavity. Quantitative OH concentration contours showed that at higher MFRs 4.5, the fuel jet and the air jet stream are separated and a flame front is formed at the interface. As the MFR is lowered to 0.3, the fuel air mixing increases and a flame front is formed at the bottom and downstream edge of the cavity where a stratified charge is present. A flame stabilization mechanism has been proposed which accounts for the wide MFRs and premixing in the mainstream as well. LES simulations using a flamelet-based combustion model were conducted to predict mean OH radical concentration and velocity along with URANS simulations using a modified Eddy dissipation concept model. The LES predictions were observed to agree closely with experimental data, and were clearly superior to the URANS predictions as expected. Performance characteristics in the form of exhaust temperature pattern factor and pollutant emissions were also measured. The NOx emissions were found to be less than 2 ppm, CO emissions below 0.2% and HC emissions below 700 ppm across various conditions. Overall, the in-situ experimental data coupled with insight from simulations and the exhaust measurements have confirmed the advantages of using the TVC as a gas turbine combustor and provided guidelines for stable and efficient operation of the combustor with syngas fuel.
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