The effect of a fully-premixed pilot flame on the velocity-forced flame response of a fully premixed flame in a single-nozzle lean-premixed swirl combustor operating on natural gas fuel is investigated. Measurements of the flame transfer function show that as the percent pilot is increased there is a decrease in the flame transfer function gain at all frequencies, a decrease in the frequencies at which the gain minima and maxima occurred, and a decrease in the flame transfer function phase at high frequencies.

High-speed CH* chemiluminescence flame imaging is used to gain a better understanding of the mechanism(s) whereby the pilot flame affects flame dynamics and thereby the flame transfer function.

Time-averaged flame images show that the location of the maximum heat release rate does not change with forcing frequency or percent pilot, although the flame extends further upstream into the inner shear layer with increasing percent pilot.

Heat release rate fluctuation images show that significant heat release rate fluctuations occur in the inner shear layer, the outer recirculation zone, and the near wall region and that the primary effect of increasing the forcing frequency or the percent pilot is a shift of the heat release rate fluctuation from the near wall region to the inner shear layer. In addition, an increase in the percent pilot results in lengthening and narrowing of the inner shear layer and the near wall regions.

The phase images show that the phase is less uniform as the frequency or percent pilot increase, resulting in greater interference between in phase and out of phase fluctuations which reduces the FTF gain. The phase images also show that the wavelength of the heat release rate perturbation travelling through the inner shear layer decreases with increasing frequency and percent pilot which suggests that the pilot flame alters the recirculation flow field.

Flame transfer functions calculated for the heat release rate fluctuations in the inner shear layer, the near wall region and the outer recirculation zone show that the inner shear layer is the largest contributor to the global heat release rate fluctuation in the unpiloted flame and that the primary effect of the pilot flame on the reduction of the global FTF gain is a result of the pilot flame’s effect on the inner shear layer.

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