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Time-Varying Flame Ionization Sensing Applied to Natural Gas and Propane Blends in a Pressurized Lean Premixed (LPM) Combustor

[+] Author Affiliations
D. L. Straub, B. T. Chorpening, E. D. Huckaby, J. D. Thornton

U.S. Department of Energy, Morgantown, WV

W. L. Fincham

RDS-Parsons, Morgantown, WV

Paper No. GT2008-51210, pp. 263-271; 9 pages
  • ASME Turbo Expo 2008: Power for Land, Sea, and Air
  • Volume 2: Controls, Diagnostics and Instrumentation; Cycle Innovations; Electric Power
  • Berlin, Germany, June 9–13, 2008
  • Conference Sponsors: International Gas Turbine Institute
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4312-3 | eISBN: 0-7918-3824-2


In-situ monitoring of combustion phenomena is a critical need for optimal operation and control of advanced gas turbine combustion systems. The concept described in this paper is based on naturally occurring flame ionization processes that accompany the combustion of hydrocarbon fuels. Previous work has shown that flame ionization techniques may be applied to detect flashback, lean blowout, and some aspects of thermo-acoustic combustion instabilities. Previous work has focused on application of DC electric fields. By application of time-varying electric fields, significant improvements to sensor capabilities have been observed. These data have been collected in a lean premixed combustion test rig operating at 0.51–0.76 MPa (5–7.5 atm) with air preheated to 588 K (600°F). Five percent of the total fuel flow is injected through the centerbody tip as a diffusion pilot. The fuel composition is varied independently by blending approximately 5% (volume) propane with the pipeline natural gas. The reference velocity through the premixing annulus is kept constant for all conditions at a nominal value of 70 m/s. The fuel-air equivalence ratio is varied independently from 0.46 – 0.58. Relative to the DC field version, the time-varying combustion control and diagnostic sensor (TV-CCADS) shows a significant improvement in the correlation between the measured flame ionization current and local fuel-air equivalence ratio. In testing with different fuel compositions, the triangle wave data show the most distinct change in flame ionization current in response to an increase in propane content. Continued development of this sensor technology will improve the capability to control advanced gas turbine combustion systems, and help address issues associated with variations in fuel supplies.



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