Combustion-zone stoichiometry and fuel-air premixing were actively controlled to optimize the combustor performance over a range of operating conditions. The objective was to maximize the combustion temperature, while maintaining NOx within a specified limit. The combustion system consisted of a premixer located coaxially near the inlet of a water-cooled shroud. The equivalence ratio was controlled by a variable-speed suction fan located downstream. The split between the premixing air and diffusion air was governed by the distance between the premixer and shroud. The combustor performance was characterized by a cost function evaluated from time-averaged measurements of NOx and oxygen concentrations in products. The cost function was minimized by the downhill simplex algorithm employing closed-loop feedback. Experiments were conducted at different fuel flow rates to demonstrate that the controller optimized the performance without prior knowledge of the combustor behavior.

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