Applied Energy, Vol.235, 463-472, 2019
Experimental characterizing combustion emissions and thermodynamic properties of a thermoacoustic swirl combustor
Many practical lean-premixed combustion systems involved in land-based power plants, gas turbines and boilers are susceptible to self-excited combustion instability, which is characterized by detrimental periodic pressure oscillations. Little attention has been paid on experimentally characterizing the chemical emissions and thermodynamic properties of a thermoacoustic swirl combustor. In this work, the effects of (1) fuel-air equivalence ratio Phi and fuel flow rate Q(CH4) on generating such combustion instability and its impact on chemical emissions and thermodynamic properties in a swirling combustor are experimentally studied. For this, a methane-fueled lab-scale swirl combustor is designed and tested. To monitor the thermodynamic properties of the combustor, an acoustic pressure sensor, an infrared thermal imaging camera, K-type thermal couples, and an infrared flue gas analyzer are applied. It is found that the fuel-air ratio plays an important role on generating combustion instability at different frequencies and amplitudes. This is confirmed by conducting autocorrelation and frequency spectrum analyses of the acoustic pressure time trace. Furthermore, the dominant mode swap (mode-switching) between a low frequency omega(1) and a high non-harmonic one is experimentally observed. Whether the mode switching from high (harmonic or non-harmonic) to low frequency or low to high frequency is found to depend strongly on Q(CH4). As the equivalence ratio is changed from lean to rich, i.e. 0.8 <= Phi <= 1.2, NOx emission is increased from 1 ppm to 37 ppm. However, CO emission is decreased by 2 order of magnitudes from 1000 ppm first and then increased. The minimum CO emission is approximately 3.0 ppm. In addition, O-2 concentration is decreased by more than 80% with increased Phi, depending on the methane flow rate. This means that the combustion efficiency characterized by the O-2 emission is decreased dramatically from 99.5% to 68% with Phi increased from 0.6 to 1.2. The present work sheds light on the characteristics of chemical emissions and thermodynamic properties, when a thermoacoustic swirl combustor is operated with methane-air equivalence ratio Phi varied from lean to rich condition and different Q(CH4). It opens up a practical means to design a stably operated but low-emission thermoacoustic swirl combustor.