Impact of the diverging cup angle of a swirling injector on the flow pattern and stabilization of technically premixed flames is investigated both theoretically and experimentally with the help of laser diagnostics. Recirculation enhancement with a lower position of the internal recirculation zone and a flame leading edge protruding further upstream in the swirled flow are observed as the injector nozzle cup angle is increased. A theoretical analysis is carried out to examine if this could be explained by changes of the swirl level as the diffuser cup angle is varied. It is shown that pressure effects need in this case to be taken into account in the swirl number definition and expressions for its variation through a diffuser are derived. They indicate that changes of the swirl level including or not the pressure contribution to the axial momentum flux cannot explain the changes observed of the flow and flame patterns in the experiments. The swirl number without the pressure term, designated as pressure-less swirl, is then determined experimentally for a set of diffusers with increasing quarl angles under non-reacting conditions and the values found corroborate the predictions. It is finally shown that the decline of axial velocity and the rise of adverse axial pressure gradient, both due to the cross section area change through the diffuser cup, are the dominant effects that control the leading edge position of the internal recirculation zone of the swirled flow. This in turn is used to develop a model for the change of this position as the quarl angle varies that shows good agreement with experiments.

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