In modern gas turbine engines swirl is typically imparted to the airflow as it enters the region of heat release to stabilize the flame. This swirling airstream is often highly turbulent and contains non-uniformities such as swirl vane wakes. However, it is within this environment that fuel atomization takes place. This paper is concerned with the potential effect of these airstream characteristics on the atomization process. Such a flow field is difficult to capture within simplified geometries and so measurements have been made within, and downstream of, injector representative geometries. This is experimentally challenging and required the application of a variety of techniques. The geometry considered is thought typical of an air-blast style injector, as may be used within current or future applications, whereby liquid fuel is introduced onto a pre-filming surface over which an airstream passes.
Data is presented which characterizes the atomizing airstream presented to the pre-filming region. This includes significant flow field non-uniformities and turbulence characteristics that are mainly associated with the swirling flow along with the vanes used to impart this swirl. The subsequent development of these aerodynamic features over the pre-filming surface is also captured with, for example, swirl vane wakes being evident through the injector passage and into the downstream flow field. It is argued these characteristics will be common to many injector designs. Measurements with and without fuel indicate the effect of the liquid film, on the non-dimensional aerodynamic flow field upstream of the pre-filming region, is minimal. However, the amount of airflow passing through the pre-filming passage is affected. In addition to characterization of the airstream, its impact on the liquid fuel film and its development along the pre-filming surface is visualized. Furthermore, PDA measurements downstream of the fuel injector (i.e. the injector ‘far-field) are presented and the observed spray characteristics spatially correlated with the upstream aerodynamic atomizing flow field. Hence for the first time a series of experimental techniques have been used to capture and correlate both near and far field atomization characteristics within an engine representative aerodynamic flow field.