We report experimental evidence of thermoacoustic bistability in a lab-scale turbulent combustor over a well-defined range of fuel–air equivalence ratios. Pressure oscillations are characterized by an intermittent behavior with “bursts,” i.e., sudden jumps between low and high amplitudes occurring at random time instants. The corresponding probability density functions (PDFs) of the acoustic pressure signal show clearly separated maxima when the burner is operated in the bistable region. The gain and phase between acoustic pressure and heat release rate fluctuations are evaluated at the modal frequency from simultaneously recorded flame chemiluminescence and acoustic pressure. The representation of the corresponding statistics is new and particularly informative. It shows that the system is characterized, in average, by a nearly constant gain and by a drift of the phase as function of the oscillation amplitude. This finding may suggest that the bistability does not result from an amplitude-dependent balance between flame gain and acoustic damping, but rather from the nonconstant phase difference between the acoustic pressure and the coherent fluctuations of heat release rate.

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