Lean premixed combustors, such as those used in industrial gas turbines to achieve low emissions, are often susceptible to thermoacoustic combustion instabilities, which manifest themselves as pressure and heat release oscillations in the combustor. These oscillations can result in increased noise and decreased durability due to vibration and flame motion. A physically based nonlinear parametric model has been developed that captures this instability. It describes the coupling of combustor acoustics with the rate of heat release. The model represents this coupling by accounting for the effect of acoustic pressure fluctuations on the varying fuel/air ratio being delivered to the flame, causing a fluctuating heat release due to both fuel air ratio variations and flame front oscillations. If the phasing of the fluctuating heat release and pressure are proper, an instability results that grows into a limit cycle. The nonlinear nature of the model predicts the onset of the instability and additionally captures the resulting limit cycle.
Tests of a lean premixed nozzle run at engine scale and engine operating conditions in the UTRC Single Nozzle Rig, conducted under DARPA contract, exhibited instabilities. Parameters from the model were adjusted so that analytical results were consistent with relevant experimental data from this test. The parametric model captures the limit cycle behavior over a range of mean fuel air ratios, showing the instability amplitude (pressure and heat release) to increase and limit cycle frequency to decrease as mean fuel air ratio is reduced.