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Title: Flashback and blowoff characteristics of gas turbine swirl combustor
Author: Abdulsada, Mohammed
ISNI:       0000 0004 2732 5964
Awarding Body: Cardiff University
Current Institution: Cardiff University
Date of Award: 2011
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Gas turbines are extensively used in combined cycle power systems. These form about 20% of global power generating capacity, normally being fired on natural gas, but this is expected in the future to move towards hydrogen enriched gaseous fuels to reduce CO2 emissions. Gas turbine combined cycles can give electrical power generation efficiencies of up to 60%, with the aim of increasing this to 70% in the next 10 to 15 years, whilst at the same time substantially reducing emissions of contaminants such as NOx. The gas turbine combustor is an essential and critical component here. These are universally stabilized with swirl flows, which give very wide blowoff limits, and with appropriate modification can be adjusted to give very low NOx and other emission. Lean premixed combustion is commonly used at pressures between 15 to 30 bar, these even out hot spots and minimise formation of thermal NOx. Problems arise because improving materials technology/improved cooling techniques allow higher turbine inlet temperatures, hence higher efficiencies, but with the drawback of potentially higher emissions and stability problems. This PhD study has widely investigated and analysed two different kinds of gas turbine swirl burners. The research has included experimental investigation and computational simulation. Mainly, the flashback and blowoff limits have been comprehensively analysed to investigate their effect upon swirl burner operation. The study was extended by using different gas mixtures, including either pure gas or a combination of more than one gas like natural gas, methane, hydrogen and carbon dioxide. The first combustor is a 100 kW tangential swirl combustor made of stainless steel that has been experimentally and theoretically analysed to study and mitigate the effect of flashback phenomena. The use of a central fuel injector, cylindrical confinement and exhaust sleeve are shown to give large benefits in terms of flashback resistance and acts to reduce and sometimes eliminate any coherent structures which may be located along the axis of symmetry. The Critical Boundary Velocity Gradient is used for characterisation of flashback, both via the original Lewis and von Elbe formula and via new analysis using CFD and investigation of boundary layer conditions just in front of the flame front. Conclusions are drawn as to mitigation technologies. It is recognized how isothermal conditions produce strong Precessing Vortex Cores that are fundamental in producing the ii final flow field, whilst the Central Recirculation Zones are dependent on pressure decay ratio inside the combustion chamber. Combustion conditions showed the high similarity between experiments and simulation. Flashback was demonstrated to be a factor highly related to the strength of the Central Recirculation Zone for those cases where a Combustion Induced Vortex Breakdown was allowed to enter the swirl chamber, whilst cases where a bluff body impeded its passage showed a considerable improvement to the resistance of the phenomenon. The use of nozzle constrictions also reduced flashback at high Reynolds number (Re). All these results were intended to contribute to better designs of future combustors. The second piece of work of this PhD research included comprehensive experimental work using a generic swirl burner (with three different blade inserts to give different swirl numbers) and has been used to examine the phenomena of flashback and blowoff in the swirl burner in the context of lean premixed combustion. Cylindrical and conical confinements have been set up and assembled with the original design of the generic swirl combustor. In addition to that, multi-fuel blends used during the experimental work include pure methane, pure hydrogen, hydrogen / methane mixture, carbon dioxide/ methane mixture and coke oven gas. The above investigational analysis has proved the flashback limits decrease when swirl numbers decrease for the fuel blends that contain 30% or less hydrogen. Confinements would improve the flashback limit as well. Blowoff limits improve with a lower swirl number and it is easier to recognise the gradual extinction of the flame under blowoff conditions. The use of exhaust confinement has created a considerable improvement in blowoff. Hydrogen enriched fuels can improve the blowoff limit in terms of increasing heat release, which is higher than heat release with natural gas. However, the confinements complicate the flashback, especially when the fuel contains a high percentage of hydrogen. The flashback propensity of the hydrogen/methane blends becomes quite strong. The most important features in gas turbines is the possibility of using different kinds of fuel. This matter has been discussed extensively in this project. By matching flashback/blowoff limits, it has been found that for fuels containing up to 30% of hydrogen, the designer would be able to switch the same gas turbine combustor to multifuels whilst producing the same power output.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: TJ Mechanical engineering and machinery