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Title: Unsteady fluid mechanics of annular swirling shear layers
Author: Dunham, David
ISNI:       0000 0004 2718 3601
Awarding Body: Loughborough University
Current Institution: Loughborough University
Date of Award: 2011
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The vast majority of gas turbine combustor systems employ swirl injectors to produce a central toroidal recirculation zone (CTRZ) which entrains and recirculates a portion of the hot combustion gases to provide continuous ignition to the incoming air-fuel mix. In addition to these primary functions, swirl injectors often generate multiple aerodynamic instability modes which are helical in nature with characteristic frequencies that can differ by many orders of magnitude. If any of these frequencies are consistent with prevalent acoustic modes within the combustor there is a potential for flow-acoustic coupling which may reinforce acoustic oscillations and drive combustion instabilities via the Rayleigh criterion. The aerodynamic performance of the swirl injector is thus of great practical importance to the design and development of combustion systems and there is a strong desire within industry for reliable computational methods that can predict this highly unsteady behaviour. This assessment can be made under isothermal conditions which avoids the complex interactions that occur in reacting flow. The goal of the present work was to compare and contrast the performance of Unsteady Reynolds- Averaged Navier-Stokes (URANS) and Large-Eddy Simulation (LES) CFD methodologies for a combustion system equipped with a derivative of an industrial Turbomeca swirl injector as this exhibits similar unsteady aerodynamic behaviour under reacting and isothermal conditions. The influence of the level of swirl, SN = 0.51−0.8, was first investigated experimentally using Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) by varying the inlet swirl vane angle. Based on a qualitative assessment of instantaneous velocity data, and a range of coherent structure eduction techniques, it was found that ®1 = 30± (SN ¼ 0.8) would be the most challenging test case for LES and URANS as this contained near and far-field instability modes that differ in frequency by around two orders of magnitude and the highest levels of normal Reynolds-stress anisotropy. Based on extensive simulations performed with both in-house (LULES and Delta) and commercial (Fluent) CFD codes it was found that, despite the relative modest computational cost of URANS which is between one-third (RST) to an order of magnitude (k−²) less than that demanded by LES, only LES captures the all-important frequency content in accordance with experimental evidence and, thus, only LES can be recommended for use in swirl injector flows. The increased cost is believed to be an absolutely worthwhile expense because of the high fidelity of the predicted results in the important area of flow instabilities.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available