Strict emission norms in the last few decades have paved the path for adaptation of new low NoX emission alternatives to power generation and aircraft propulsion. Lean combustion is a very promising and practicable technology for reducing NOX reduction and also have very high fuel efficiency. However, lean combustion technology suffers from inherent combustion instabilities that are manifested under different conditions, most importantly, thermoacoustic instability and lean blowout. Lean blowout occurs when a gas turbine combustor operating close to lean limit, for lowest NoX emission, faces abrupt changes in fuel homogeneity, quality or flow rate. While many work have been done in thermo-acoustic instability and flame propagation in annular combustors, studies in lean blowout in annular combustors are very limited. The lean limit of combustors are not fixed and is dependent on fuel characteristics and operating condition including environmental effects. So accurate online prediction of lean limit is very important to keep the combustors operating safely near lean limit. Recent works have demonstrated that single burner combustors leave out a significant amounts of physics including interaction of flames from different burners prior to blowout.
In this work, a stepped down swirl and bluff body stabilized annular combustor in CB configuration (having chamber and burner), is used as experimental test rig having 4 number of identical burners. Video and heat release data are taken at different conditions as lean blowout is approached. Frequent attachment and reattachment of the flames prior to lift off was seen. As lean blowout is approached, inherent subtle differences in the different burners get amplified when flame becomes sufficiently weak and flame symmetry is broken. As air fuel mixture is made gradually leaner, one by one the flames from different burners elongates although remains partially attached to burner. Further lowering the equivalence ratio results in lift off and merging of the flame fronts of different burners. Three pixel averaged color ratios are extracted from still camera RGB images as flame stability indicators which are, red by blue, red by green and blue by green. The parameters show marked change at the point of lift off as well as at the lean blowout point.