A fully connected Artificial Neural Network (ANN) is used to predict the mean spray characteristics of prefilming airblast atomization. The model is trained from the planar prefilmer experiment from the PhD thesis of Gepperth (2020). The output of the ANN model are the Sauter Mean Diameter, the mean droplet axial velocity, the mean ligament length and the mean ligament deformation velocity.

The training database contains 322 different operating points. Two types of model input quantities are investigated and compared. First, nine dimensional parameters are used as inputs for the model. Second, nine non-dimensional groups commonly used for liquid atomization are derived from the first set of inputs.

The best architecture is determined after testing over 10000 randomly drawn ANN architectures, with up to 10 layers and up to 128 neurons per layer. The striking results is that for both types of model, the best architectures consist of only 3 hidden layer in the shape of a diabolo. This shape recalls the shape of an autoencoder, where the middle layer would be the feature space of reduced dimensionality.

It was found that the model with dimensional input quantities always shows a lower test and validation errors than the one with non-dimensional input quantities. In general, the two types of models provide comparable accuracy, better than typical correlations of SMD and droplet velocity.

Finally the extrapolation capability of the models was assessed by a training them on a confined domain of parameters and testing them outside this domain.

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