The ability to re-ignite at high altitude after a flameout event is critical for flight safety. One reason that makes the relight process of the engine difficult is the low temperature and pressure, which leads to poor atomization, low degree of evaporation and slow reaction rate of the vaporized fuel. For this research work a rectangular, one sector RQL combustion chamber was utilized for experimental investigations at high altitude conditions. The design of the chamber is modular so that experiments for two configurations, i.e. without and with effusion cooling holes can be conducted. The fuel injection and the ignition system are representative of the ones used in commercial aviation.

The investigations were performed in the frame of the European research project SOPRANO at the ISCAR rig. The ISCAR rig is capable of generating low pressure and temperature conditions for flowing kerosene-air mixtures.

The investigation focuses on the characterization of the ignition process, in terms of probability, minimum fuel to air ratio (FAR) and ignition timing for a successful ignition event. In addition, the unsteady flame kernel generation and propagation were analyzed by high-speed imaging recording.

An in-house image processing code was developed in order to derive quantitative spatial information of the flame and overall trends among ignition sequences for the same or different operating conditions.

In order to achieve comparability between the investigated configurations (liners without and with effusion cooling), the pressure drop across the nozzle and the liners was the same depending on the operating condition. Results show that both pressure and temperature affect the ignition process, with the former being the dominant parameter in the investigated conditions. In both configurations, the minimum FAR increased as long as the conditions in the chamber became more adverse, indicating that at high altitude low-pressure situations, the performance of the airblast atomizer deteriorated causing poor ignition. This is overcome by creating a richer fuel-air mixture in the primary zone. Finally, the air injected through the effusion cooling holes near the spark seems to create favorable conditions for the ignition process.

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