Residence time measurement of an isothermal combustor flow field


Residence times of combustors have commonly been used to help understand NOx emissions and flame blowout. Both the time mean velocity and turbulence fields are important to the residence time, but determining the residence time via analysis of a measured velocity field is difficult due to the inherent unsteadiness and the three-dimensional nature of a high-Re swirling flow. A more direct approach to measure residence time is reported here that examines the dynamic response of fuel concentration to a sudden cutoff in the fuel injection. Residence time measurement was mainly taken using a time-resolved planar laser-induced fluorescence (PLIF) technique, but a second camera for particle image velocimetry (PIV) was added to check that the step change does not alter the velocity field and the spectral content of the coherent structures. Characteristic timescales evaluated from the measurements are referred to as convection and half-life times: The former describes the time delay from a fuel injector exit reference point to a downstream point of interest, and the latter describes the rate of decay once the effect of the reduced scalar concentration at the injection source has been transported to the point of interest. Residence time is often defined as the time taken for a conserved scalar to reduce to half its initial value after injection is stopped: this equivalent to the sum of the convection time and the half-life values. The technique was applied to a high-swirl fuel injector typical of that found in combustor applications. Two test cases have been studied: with central jet (with-jet) and without central jet (no-jet). It was found that the relatively unstable central recirculation zone of the no-jet case resulted in increased transport of fuel into the central region that is dominated by a precessing vortex core, where long half-life times are also found. Based on this, it was inferred that the no-jet case may be more prone to NOx production. The technique is described here for a single-phase isothermal flow field, but with consideration, it could be extended to studying reacting flows to provide more insight into important mixing phenomena and relevant timescales.

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Correspondence to Adrian Spencer.

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Extended version of Lisbon 2010 Paper #1736 for consideration of Special Issue in Lisbon 2012, Revision 2, March 2011.

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Cheng, L., Spencer, A. Residence time measurement of an isothermal combustor flow field. Exp Fluids 52, 647–661 (2012).

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  • Particle Image Velocimetry
  • Shear Layer
  • Fuel Injector
  • Vortex Pair
  • Residence Time Distribution