Combustor modeling has reached the stage where the most useful research activities are likely to be on specific sub-problems of the general three-dimensional turbulent reacting flow problem. The present study is concerned with a timely fluid dynamic research task of interest to the combustor modeling community. Numerical computations have been undertaken for a basic two-dimensional axisymmetric flowfield which is similar to that found in a conventional gas turbine combustor. A swirling nonreacting flow enters a larger chamber via a sudden or gradual expansion. The calculation method includes a stairstep boundary representation of the expansion flow, a conventional k-ε turbulence model and realistic accommodation of swirl effects. The results include recirculation zone characterization and predicted mean streamline patterns. In addition, an experimental evaluation using flow visualization of neutrally-buoyant helium-filled soap bubbles is yielding very promising results. Successful outcomes of the work can be incorporated into the more combustion- and hardware-oriented activities of gas turbine engine manufacturers, including incorporating the modeling aspects into already existing comprehensive numerical solution procedures.

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