Correct functioning of fuel nozzles is paramount to the efficient operation of gas turbine engines. Nozzles exhibiting poor distribution of droplets can be detrimental to combustion and overall engine life due to the creation of hot spots and potential for torching. The traditional technique of assessing nozzle performance involves operation in stagnant air conditions. Fuel spray is collected in the subdivided bins of a mechanical patternation system to determine spray symmetry. Recent improvements in spray analysis involve the use of laser light sheets to illuminate specific ‘slices’ of sprays in either cross sectional or axial planes. Typically, scattered light from the intersection of a laser sheet and a spray is recorded by a digital video camera, and images are averaged and corrected to determine the quality of the spray pattern. Such optical means of assessing spray quality provide great improvement over conventional means in terms of speed, convenience, and information retrieved. Nonetheless, data obtained in stagnant air conditions do not give an indication of spray geometry within combustion chambers under realistic operating conditions of airflow and combustion. This paper describes a project which applied laser-based optical patternation in a T-56 gas turbine combustion chamber rig with optical access under realistic flow conditions. As such, nozzle spray pattern was observed for various air and fuel flows in both cross sectional and plume (chamber axial) orientations. A deliberately damaged nozzle was also assessed for comparison with a good nozzle. Using optical filtration, spray patterns were observed under operationally representative combustion conditions.

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