In order to understand the reasons for the apparent benefits of using a flow-blurring (FB) atomizer in a combustion system, it is necessary to first examine fundamental spray characteristics under nonreacting conditions. Previous work on FB atomizers, however, has mostly involved only water and a relatively narrow range of parameters. In this study, a phase Doppler anemometry (PDA) instrument was used to characterize FB atomizer sprays and determine the effects of varying surface tension and viscosity of the liquid. Operating at room pressure and temperature (i.e., a “cold spray”), droplet sizes and velocities were measured for water, a water/surfactant mixture (lower surface tension), a water/glycerol mixture (higher viscosity), and glycerol (much higher viscosity). For all of the tested fluids, with the exception of pure glycerol, the FB atomizer produced small droplets (below 50 μm) whose size did not vary significantly in the radial or axial direction, particularly above a characteristic distance from the atomizer exit. Results show that the spray is essentially unaffected by a 4.5× decrease in surface tension or a 7× increase in viscosity, and that Sauter mean diameter (SMD) only increased by approximately a factor of three when substituting glycerol (750× higher viscosity) for water. The results suggest that the FB atomizer can effectively atomize a wide range of liquids, making it a useful fuel-flexible atomizer for combustion applications.

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