Experimental And Numerical Studies On Flame Stability And Optimization Of A Compact Trapped Vortex Combustor
Agarwal, Krishna Kant
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A new Trapped Vortex Combustor (TVC) concept has been studied for applications such as those in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) as it offers potential for superior flame stability and low pressure loss. Flame stability is ensured by a strong vortex in a physical cavity attached to the combustor wall, and low pressure loss is due to the absence of swirl. Earlier studies on a compact combustor concept showed that there are issues with ensuring stable combustion over a range of operating conditions. The present work focuses on experimental studies and numerical simulations to study the stability issues and performance optimization in this compact single-cavity TVC configuration. For performing numerical simulations, an accurate and yet computationally affordable Modified Eddy Dissipation Concept combustion model is built upon the KIVA-3V platform to account for turbulence-chemistry interactions. Detailed validation with a turbulent non-premixed CH4/H2/N2 flame from literature showed that the model is sufficiently accurate and the effect of various simulation strategies is assessed. Transient flame simulation capabilities are assessed by comparison with experimental data from an acoustically excited oscillatory H2-air diffusion flame reported in literature. Subsequent to successful validation of the model, studies on basic TVC flow oscillations are performed. Frequencies of flow oscillations are found to be independent of flow velocities and cavity length, but dependent on the cavity depth. Cavity injection and combustion individually affect the magnitude of flow oscillations but do not significantly alter the resonant frequencies. Reacting flow experiments and flow visualization studies in an existing experimental TVC rig with optical access and variable cavity L/D ratio show that TVC flame stability depends strongly on the cavity air velocity. A detailed set of numerical simulations also confirms this and helps to identify three basic modes of TVC flame stabilization. A clockwise cavity vortex stabilized flame is formed at low cavity air velocities relative to the mainstream, while a strong anticlockwise cavity vortex is formed at high cavity air velocities and low L/Ds. At intermediate conditions, the cavity vortex structure is found to be in a transition state which leads to large scale flame instabilities and flame blow-out. For solving the flame instability problem, a novel strategy of incorporating a flow guide vane is proposed to establish the advantageous anticlockwise vortex without the use of cavity air. Experimental results with the modified configuration are quite encouraging for TVC flame stability at laboratory conditions, while numerical results show good stability even at extreme operating conditions. Further design optimization studies are performed in a multi-parameter space using detailed simulations. From the results, a strategy of using inclined struts in the main flow path along with the ﬂow guide vane seems most promising. This configuration is tested experimentally and results pertaining to pressure drop, pattern factor and flame stability are found to be satisfactory.