An unstructured and massively parallel Reynolds-Averaged Navier-Stokes (RANS) code is used to simulate 3-D, turbulent, non-reacting, and confined swirling flow field associated with a single-element and a nine-element Lean Direct Injection (LDI) combustor. In addition, the computed results are compared with the Large Eddy Simulation (LES) results and are also validated against the experimental data. The LDI combustors are a new generation of liquid fuel combustors developed to reduce aircraft NOx emission to 70% below the 1996 International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards and to maintain carbon monoxide and unburned hydrocarbons at their current low levels at low power conditions. The concern in the stratosphere is that NOx would react with the ozone and deplete the ozone layer. This paper investigates the non-reacting aerodynamics characteristics of the flow associated with these new combustors using a RANS computational method. For the single-element LDI combustor, the experimental model consists of a cylindrical air passage with air swirlers and a converging-diverging venturi section, extending to a confined 50.8-mm square flame tube. The air swirlers have helical, axial vanes with vane angles of 60 degree. The air is highly swirled as it passes through the 60 degree swirlers and enters the flame tube. The nine-element LDI combustor is comprised of 9 elements that are designed to fit within a 76 mm 76 mm flametube combustor. In the experimental work, the jet-A liquid fuel is supplied through a small diameter fuel injector tube and is atomized as it exits the tip and enters the flame tube. The swirling and mixing of the fuel and air induces recirculation zone that anchors the combustion process, which is maintained as long as a flammable mixture of fuel and air is supplied. It should be noted that in the numerical simulation reported in this paper, only the non-reacting flow is considered. The numerical model encompasses the whole experimental flow passage, including the flow development sections for the air swirlers, and the flame tube. A low Reynolds number K-e turbulence model is used to model turbulence. Several RANS calculations are performed to determine the effects of the grid resolution on the flow field. The grid is refined several times until no noticeable change in the computed flow field occurred; the final refined grid is used for the detailed computations. The results presented are for the final refined grid. The final grids are all hexahedron grids containing approximately 861,823 cells for the single-element and 1,567,296 cells for the nine-element configuration. Fine details of the complex flow structure such as helical-ring vortices, re-circulation zones and vortex cores are well captured by the simulation. Consistent with the non-reacting experimental results, the computation model predicts a major re-circulation zone in the central region, immediately downstream of the fuel nozzle, and a second, recirculation zone in the upstream corner of the combustion chamber. Further, the computed results predict the experimental data with reasonable accuracy.

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