Curved blade radial swirlers using all the primary air were investigated with applications to lean burning gas turbine combustor primary zones with low NOx emissions. Two modes of fuel injection were compared, central and radial swirler pássage injection for gaseous and liquid fuels. Both fuel systems produced low NOx emissions but the upstream mixing in the swirler passages resulted in ultra low NOx emissions. A 140mm diameter atmospheric pressure combustor was used with 43% of the combustor air flow into the primary zone through the radial swirler. Radial gas composition measurements at various axial distances were made and these showed that the flame stability and NOx emissions were controlled by differences in local mixing at the base of the swirling shear layer downstream of the swirler outlet. For radial passage fuel injection it was found that a very high combustion efficiency was obtained for both propane and liquid fuels at 400K and 600K inlet temperatures. The flame stability, although worse than for central fuel injection was considerably better than for a premixed system. The NOx emissions at one bar pressure and 600K inlet temperature, compatible with a high combustion efficiency, for propane and kerosene were 3 and 6 ppm at 15% oxygen. For Gas Oil the NOx emissions were higher, but were still very low at 12ppm. Assuming a square root dependence of NOx on pressure these results indicate that NOx emissions of 48ppm for Gas Oil and less than 12ppm for gaseous fuels could be achieved at 16 bar pressure, which is typical of recent industrial gas turbines. High air flow radial swirlers with passage fuel injection have the potential for a dry solution to the NOx emissions regulations.

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