Abstract

With the recent advancement of metallic additive manufacturing (AM), it is perceived that future gas turbines will be manufactured with significantly fewer parts, leading to both financial and safety improvements achieved from reductions in weight, assembly processes and failure modes associated with welded parts. In addition the design and manufacture of highly intricate parts such as fuel atomizers become free from the constraints of tooling, facilitating more complex internal flow geometries to be conceived which afford improved atomization, flame stability and hence combustion efficiency. However, it is noted that increased dimensional tolerances and surface roughness resulting from this manufacturing technique can detrimentally impact internal air and fuel flow paths and hence warrant further investigation. In this study a small-scale (200kW) pre-filming airblast atomizer, based on the Parker Hannifin commercial concept, and typical of injectors utilized in RQL aviation combustors, was manufactured by Cardiff School of Engineering’s High Value Manufacturing Laboratories. Direct metal laser sintering, was utilized to produce a fully operational single component part, manufactured in 316-grade stainless steel using a Renishaw AM250 system, providing a part with measured surface roughness (Ra) values of 12–26 μm in agreement with expected values reported in the literature. Operation of the injector as a single fluid atomizer demonstrated that the fuel channel and integrated swirlers were sufficiently accurate and concentric to result in a uniform spray pattern, displaying global liquid sheet structures which were in agreement with those previously reported. However, the effective area of the atomizer’s air-flow path, when evaluated using differential pressure measurements, was shown to be smaller than predicted, resulting in an increased pressure drop. Laser diffraction droplet sizing was utilized to evaluate the global SMD of the prefilming airblast water spray at atmospheric conditions, across a range of air to liquid ratios. SMD’s between 4.2–115μm were measured at corresponding air-flow rates of 3–25 g/s, with droplet sizes observed to decrease exponentially at higher air-flow rates. This data is again in excellent agreement with SMD correlations previously proposed. Flame stability experiments conducted at ambient pressure and elevated air temperature, demonstrated the stability of a conventional (JET A-1) fuel flame across a range of air and fuel flow rates, representative of pressure drops and AFRs in commercial operation. Further post-processing of the internal flow path walls and swirl vanes to reduce surface roughness is anticipated to result in a lower pressure drop across the air-path geometry, highlighting the potential for further improvements in AM injector performance.

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