Phase Doppler measurements of size, velocity, liquid flux, and average mass fractions were obtained in sprays produced by three identical coaxial airblast atomizers, with their axes placed in a triangular arrangement at distances of two air jet diameters from each other; the arrangement simulates the spray interaction in the preburner of the space shuttle main engine with water and air respectively replacing the liquid oxygen and hydrogen of the preburner sprays. Each nozzle comprised a liquid jet with exit diameter of 2.3 mm centred in a 8.95 mm diameter air stream. Two liquid flowrates were examined, while the air flowrate was kept constant, resulting in Weber number at the exit of the nozzle around 1100, air-to-liquid momentum ratio 8.6 and 38, velocity ratio 24 and 51, mass flowrate ratio 0.35 and 0.75, liquid jet Reynolds number 10,000 and 21,000 and air jet Reynolds number around 108,000. The air flow characteristics were compared to the flow without liquid injection. Up to 10 air jet diameters from the nozzle exit, individual spray characteristics dominated and maximum Sauter mean diameters, typically around 150 μm, and liquid flux were observed on the geometrical axes of the nozzles. Spray merging was strong in the region between the nozzle axes, where the Sauter mean diameter reduced and the liquid flux and the mean and rms of the fluctuations of the axial velocity of the droplets and the air flow increased relative to the single spray. Downstream of 25 air jet diameters from the nozzle exit, the multiple sprays merged to a single spray-like flow produced by a nozzle located at the centre of the triangular region between the nozzle axes. Reduction of the liquid flowrate by 50 percent, improved atomization by 25 percent, shortened the axial distance from the nozzles where the individual spray characteristics disappeared by 30 percent and increased the air flow turbulence by 20 percent. Droplet coalescence was negligible for high liquid flowrates, but for reduced liquid flowrates coalescence became important and the Sauter mean diameter increased with the axial distance from the exit by around 15 percent. Spray merging increased the air flow turbulence and the local mass fraction distribution of the air in the region between the nozzle axes by around 50 and 40 percent respectively relative to the single sprays, resulting in a fuel rich region with increased gas flow turbulence which may influence the ignition process in the preburner of the space shuttle main engine.

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