Modern gas turbine spray combustors feature multiple swirlers with distributed fuel injection system for rapid fuel/air mixing and flame stabilization ensuring low NOx operations. In the present paper, we investigate the effects of different swirler designs on flame characteristics, stabilization, and behavior at lean blow out using a Triple Annular Research Swirler (TARS) burner. Simultaneous planar measurements using laser diagnostics, namely, Planar Laser Induced Fluorescence (LIF) of OH radicals indicating the reacting zone, LIF Acetone indicating unburnt fuel distribution and Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) for flow field mapping, were applied to study the flow dynamics, fuel distribution and flame dynamics for different swirler geometries, air flow rates, and equivalence ratios. Both axial and nearly perpendicular to axis cross-sectional planes were investigated. The three swirler configurations allowed getting stable and repeatable flames over a wide range of different flow and fuel equivalence ratio conditions, confirming the good flexibility and operability of the TARS burner. Averaged fields are presented to compare the effect of different flow conditions using the same swirler configuration, and the effect of different swirler configurations at the same flow conditions. LIF and PIV instantaneous samples are also shown, both in axial and cross sectional planes, with structures captured in detail. Perfect matching is found between unburnt and burnt field, as well as agreement between axial and cross-sectional measurements. Particular attention has been placed on unstable flames and a highly unsteady flame near the lean blow out (LBO) is shown. Local extinctions are occasionally seen on instantaneous snapshots. Unsteadiness of such flame is suitable to exemplify the use of Proper Orthogonal Decomposition (POD) analysis that identifies the most “energetic” large scale structures or modes of the flame. In particular, rotational and helical modes are observed which can contribute to the swirling flame instability. The results show the effect of the strength and rotation direction of the swirlers can lead to strong flame stratification or to a more homogenous flames. Analysis of the flame dynamics, indicates that the flame can be stabilized dynamically without the presence of a Central Recirculation Zone (CRZ) through flame quenching and flame propagation.

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