Combustion dynamics have detrimental effects on hardware durability as well as combustor performance and emissions. This paper presents a detailed study on the impact of combustion dynamics on NOx and CO emissions generated from a prototype gas turbine combustor operating at a pressure of 180 psia (12.2 bars) with a pre-heat temperature of 720 F (655.3 K) (E-class machine operating conditions). Two unstable modes are discussed. The first is an intermittent mode, at 750 Hz, that emerges at flame temperatures near 2900°F (1866.5 K), resulting in high NOx and CO emissions. With increasing fuel flow, NOx and CO emissions continue to increase until the flame temperature reaches approximately 3250°F (2061 K), at which point the second acoustic mode begins to dominate. Flame images indicate that the intermittent mode is associated with flame motion which induces the high NOx and CO emissions. The second mode is also a 750 Hz, but of constant amplitude (no intermittency). Operation in this second 750 Hz mode results in significantly reduced NOx and CO emissions. At pressures higher than 180 psia (12.2 bars), the intermittent mode intensifies, leading to flashback at flame temperatures above 2850°F (1839 K). In order to mitigate the intermittent mode, a second configuration of the combustor included an exit area restriction. The exit area restriction eliminated the intermittent mode, resulting in stable operation and low emissions over a temperature range of 2700–3200°F (1755–2033 K). A comparison of the NOx emissions, as function of flame temperature, with previous published data for perfectly premixed indicates that, while the low amplitude 750 Hz oscillations have little effect, the intermittent mode significantly increases emissions. Mode shape analysis shows that the 750 Hz instability corresponds to the 1/4 wave axial mode. In the current research a ceramic liner is used while the previous published data was collected with a quartz liner. Typically, quartz is avoided due to reductions in effective flame temperature by radiation losses. Experiments showed that NOx emissions were not affected by the combustor liner type. This agreement between the quartz and ceramic liners data indicates limited effect from the radiation heat losses on NOx emissions.

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