State of the art afterburner combustion employs spray bars and flameholders in a long cavity, which adds significant length and weight to the engine and increases its observability. This paper presents a feasibility study for the development of a compact “prime and trigger” afterburner that eliminates the flameholders and reduces the length of the engine. In this concept, fuel is injected just upstream or in between the turbine stages in such a manner that upon exiting the turbine the fuel has evaporated and premixed with the flow without significant combustion, a process referred to as “priming”. Downstream of the turbine, combustion is initiated either through autoignition or by using a low power plasma radical generator being developed in a parallel investigation to “trigger” the combustion process. The prime and trigger injection and ignition scheme has been investigated using an experimental setup that simulates the operating conditions in a typical gas turbine engine. For this investigation, a trigger is not used, and combustion of the fuel occurs through autoignition. A physics-based theoretical model was developed to predict the location of autoignition for given flow and spray properties and injection locations. The theoretical predictions and the experimental results obtained using thermocouple measurements and CH* chemiluminescence confirm the feasibility of the prime and trigger concept by demonstrating the predictable and controlled autoignition of the afterburner fuel.

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