Single digit NOx emission targets as part of gas turbine design criteria require highly accurate modeling of the various NOx formation pathways. The concept of lean, premixed combustion is adopted in various gas turbine combustor designs, which achieves lower NOx levels by primarily lowering the flame temperature. At these conditions, the post-flame thermal-NOx pathway contribution to the total NOx can be relatively small compared to that from the prompt-NOx and the N2O-route, which are enhanced by the super-equilibrium radical pathway at the flame front. In addition, new sources of natural gas fuel (e.g., imported LNG) with widely varying chemical compositions including higher order hydrocarbon components, impact flame stability, lean blow-out limits and emissions in existing lean premixed combustion systems. Also, the presence of higher order hydrocarbons can increase the risk of flashback induced by autoignition in the premixing section of the combustor.

In this work a detailed chemical kinetic model was developed for natural gas fuels that consist of CH4, C2H6, C3H8, nC4H10, iC4H10, and small amounts of nC5H12, iC5H12 and nC6H14 in order to predict ignition behavior at typical gas turbine premixing conditions and to predict CO and NOx emissions at lean premixed combustion conditions. The model was validated for different NOx-pathways using low and high pressure laminar premixed flame data. The model was also extended to include a vitiated kinetic scheme to account for the influence of exhaust gas recirculation on fuel oxidation. The model was employed in a chemical reactor network to simulate a laboratory scale lean premixed combustion system to predict CO and NOx. The current kinetic mechanism demonstrates good predictive capability for NOx emissions at lower temperatures typical of practical lean premixed combustion systems.

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