Abstract

The present study investigates the role of inlet turbulence intensity on the stability characteristics of a lab scale backward facing step combustor (BFS). Turbulence generator placed upstream of the flame holder is used to vary the turbulence levels. The present study utilizes simultaneous chemiluminescence, particle image velocimetry (PIV) and unsteady pressure fluctuation measurement are done in a time-resolved manner to study the role of inlet turbulence intensity on the flame-flow dynamics and identify different modes of combustion instability as a result of the same. The bifurcation plot with airflow rate, in terms of step-based Reynolds number (Re) as the control parameter, indicates a counterintuitive picture, whereby higher turbulence intensity postpones the onset of instability. The finding has been reported in the past by Nagarajan et. al [30], with the present work extending it. It is shown that the flow-flame structures at high (∼1000 Pa) and very high (>4000 Pa), conditions, the dynamics are significantly different across the same turbulence intensity at different equivalence ratio as well as at different turbulence intensities for the same equivalence ratio. Analysis of the flame-flow dynamics reveals the role of the extent of vortex initiated by acoustics and its orientation in forming an unsteady loop, whereby the vortex span and strength aids the flame to propagate upstream of the step, and the flame in-turn being responsible to sustain the large-scale vortex. This phenomenon is distinct from the conventional vortex sustained combustion instability, whereby the vortex is of the lower span and does not influence the upstream flow. The role of inlet turbulence intensity is seen to be more pronounced in the extent of the flame propagating upward, which then completes the fore-mentioned loop.

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