This paper reports on an optimisation study of the CO turndown behaviour of an axially staged combustor, in the context of industrial gas turbines (GT). The aim of this work is to assess the optimally achievable CO turndown behaviour limit given system and operating characteristics, without considering flow-induced behaviours such as mixing quality and flame spatial characteristics. To that end, chemical reactor network modelling is used to investigate the impact of various system and operating conditions on the exhaust CO emissions of each combustion stage, as well as at the combustor exit. Different combustor residence time combinations are explored to determine their contribution to the exhaust CO emissions.

The two-stage combustor modelled in this study consists of a primary (Py) and a secondary (Sy) combustion stage, followed by a discharge nozzle (DN), which distributes the exhaust to the turbines. The Py is modelled using a freely propagating flame (FPF), with the exhaust gas extracted downstream of the flame front at a specific location corresponding to a specified residence time (tr). These exhaust gases are then mixed and combusted with fresh gases in the Sy, modelled by a perfectly stirred reactor (PSR) operating within a set tr. These combined gases then flow into the DN, which is modelled by a plug flow reactor (PFR) that cools the gas to varying combustor exit temperatures within a constrained tr. Together, these form a simplified CRN model of a two-stage, dry-low emissions (DLE) combustion system. Using this CRN model, the impact of the tr distribution between the Py, Sy and DN is explored. A parametric study is conducted to determine how inlet pressure (Pin), inlet temperature (Tin), equivalence ratio (ϕ) and Py-Sy fuel split (FS), individually impact indicative CO turndown behaviour. Their coupling throughout engine load is then investigated using a model combustor, and its effect on CO turndown is explored. Thus, this aims to deduce the fundamental, chemically-driven parameters considered to be most important for identifying the optimal CO turndown of GT combustors.

In this work, a parametric study and a model combustor study are presented. The parametric study consists of changing a single parameter at a time, to observe the independent effect of this change and determine its contribution to CO turndown behaviour. The model combustor study uses the same CRN, and varies the parameters simultaneously to mimic their change as an engine moves through its steady-state power curve. The latter study thus elucidates the difference in CO turndown behaviour when all operating conditions are coupled, as they are in practical engines. The results of this study aim to demonstrate the parameters that are key for optimising and improving CO turndown.

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