Sequential combustion constitutes a major technological step-change for gas turbines applications. This design provides higher operational flexibility, lower emissions and higher efficiency compared to today’s conventional architectures. Like any constant pressure combustion system, sequential combustors can undergo thermoacoustic instabilities. These instabilities potentially lead to high-amplitude acoustic limit cycles, which shorten the engine components’ lifetime and therefore reduce their reliability and availability. In case of a sequential system, the two flames are mutually coupled via acoustic and entropy waves. This additional inter-stages interaction markedly complicates the already challenging problem of thermoacoustic instabilities. As a result, new and unexplored system dynamics are possible. In this work, experimental data from our generic sequential combustor are presented. The system exhibits many different distinctive dynamics, as function of the operation parameters and of the combustor arrangement. This paper investigates a particular bifurcation, where two thermoacoustic modes synchronize their self-sustained oscillations over a range of operating conditions. A low-order model of this thermoacoustic bifurcation is proposed. This consists of two coupled stochastically driven non-linear oscillators, and is able to reproduce the peculiar dynamics associated with this synchronization phenomenon. The model aids in understanding what the physical mechanisms that play a key role in the unsteady combustor physics are. In particular, it highlights the role of entropy waves, which are a significant driver of thermoacoustic instabilities in this sequential setup. This research helps to lay the foundations for understanding the thermoacoustic instabilities in sequential combustion systems.

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