The present work is concerned with improving combustion stability in lean premixed (LP) gas turbine combustors by injecting free radicals into the combustion zone. The work is a joint experimental and numerical effort aimed at investigating the feasibility of incorporating a circumferential pilot combustor, which operates under rich conditions and directs its radicals enriched exhaust gases into the main combustion zone as the means for stabilization. The investigation includes the development of a chemical reactors network (CRN) model that is based on perfectly stirred reactors modules and on preliminary CFD analysis as well as on testing the method on an experimental model under laboratory conditions. The study is based on the hypothesis that under lean combustion conditions, combustion instability is linked to local extinctions of the flame and consequently, there is a direct correlation between the limiting conditions affecting combustion instability and the lean blowout (LBO) limit of the flame. The experimental results demonstrated the potential reduction of the combustion chamber's LBO limit while maintaining overall NOx emission concentration values within the typical range of low NOx burners and its delicate dependence on the equivalence ratio of the ring pilot flame. A similar result was revealed through the developed CHEMKIN-PRO CRN model that was applied to find the LBO limits of the combined pilot burner and main combustor system, while monitoring the associated emissions. Hence, both the CRN model, and the experimental results, indicate that the radicals enriched ring jet is effective at stabilizing the LP flame, while keeping the NOx emission level within the characteristic range of low NOx combustors.

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