The presented work focuses on the experimental spray structure and the combustion of a linearly-arranged 5-swirler array. The aerodynamics and spray characteristics of a non-reacting single swirler are reported first as a baseline, followed by those of a 5-swirler array to investigate the effect of swirling flow interactions on aerodynamics and combustion. For the baseline single swirler, the smaller droplets follow the air flow more closely and further dispersed away at the exit of swirler. Thus, the mean diameter of droplet increases with the flow developing further downstream. However, in the central portion of a 5-swirler array, the droplet size remains similar. It is attributed to that swirling flow interactions might provide better air/fuel mixing and the additional shear stress to break up droplet continuously and is evident by the higher turbulent intensity in the aerodynamic measurement. Due to the influence of gas phase, the distribution of liquid phase in center toroidal recirculation zone (CTRZ) is non-uniform in a 5-swirler array. The center swirler of a 5-swirler array features a larger CTRZ which is accompanied by two smaller CTRZs from its neighbors. The flame anchored by the center swirler of a 5-swirler array is richer than the other two neighboring flames when the inter-swirler spacing is 2D, where D is the diameter of swirler exit diameter. However, when the inter-swirler spacing is increased to 2.5D, all swirlers feature a similar flame, which is different from what is expected from non-reacting flow studies reported previously. The unexpected result should be attributed to the difference in swirling strength between non-reacting and reacting flows.
Moreover, the high speed imaging is employed to investigate the flame spreading during ignition process for a 5-swirler array. The high-speed movies show that the directional mechanism of flame spreading along lateral direction remains basically the same and is independent of the investigated test parameters including: two inter-swirler spacings, five fuel flow rates, five air pressure drops across swirlers, and five upstream air temperatures. An empirical correlation incorporating normalized inter-swirler spacing, air/fuel ratio, Reynolds number, and normalized air temperature is proposed and validated through a normalization procedure within around ± 10% error. The increase of Reynolds number and normalized air temperature has favorable impact on the flame spreading, which is stated by the empirical correlation.