Flame flashback from the combustion chamber into the mixing zone is one of the inherent problems of lean premixed combustion and essentially determines the reliability of low NOx burners. Generally, flashback can be initiated by one of the following four phenomena: flashback due to the conditions in the boundary layer, flashback due to turbulent flame propagation in the core flow, flashback induced by combustion instabilities and flashback caused by combustion induced vortex breakdown.
In this study, flashback in a swirling tubular flow was investigated. In order to draw maximum benefit from the tests with respect to the application in gas turbines, the radial distribution of the axial and circumferential momentum in the tube was selected such that the typical character of a flow in mixing zones of premix burners without centerbody was obtained. A single burner test rig has been designed to provoke flashback with the preheating temperature, the equivalence ratio and the mean flow rate being the influencing parameters. The flame position within the mixing section is detected by a special optical flame sensor array, which allows the control of the experiment and furthermore the triggering of the measurement techniques. The burning velocity of the fuel has been varied by using natural gas or hydrogen.
The characteristics of the flashback, the unsteady swirling flow during the flame propagation, the flame dynamics and the reaction zones have been investigated by applying High Speed Video recordings, the Laser Doppler Anemometry and the Laser Induced Fluorescence. The presented results show that a combustion induced vortex breakdown is the dominating mechansim of the observed flashback. This mechanism is very sensitive to the momentum distribution in the vortex core. By adding axial momentum around the mixing tube axis, the circumferential velocity gradient is reduced and flashback can be prevented.