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Experimental Studies of Cavity and Core Flow Interactions With
Application to Ultra-Compact Combustors
Blunck, D. L., Shouse, D. T., Neuroth, C., Lynch, A., Erdmann, T. J., Burrus, D.
L., ... & Caswell, A. (2014). Experimental Studies of Cavity and Core Flow
Interactions With Application to Ultra-Compact Combustors. Journal of
Engineering for Gas Turbines and Power, 136(9), 091505. doi:10.1115/1.4026975
American Society of Mechanical Engineers
Version of Record
David L. Blunck1
Air Force Research Laboratory,
Wright-Patterson AFB, OH 45433
e-mail: [email protected]
Dale T. Shouse
Air Force Research Laboratory,
Wright-Patterson AFB, OH 45433
e-mail: [email protected]
Craig Neuroth
Air Force Research Laboratory,
Wright-Patterson AFB, OH 45433
e-mail: [email protected]
Amy Lynch
Air Force Research Laboratory,
Wright-Patterson AFB, OH 45433
e-mail: [email protected]
Timothy J. Erdmann
Innovative Scientific Solutions Inc.,
Dayton, OH 45459
e-mail: [email protected]
David L. Burrus
Innovative Scientific Solutions Inc.,
Dayton, OH 45459
e-mail: [email protected]
Joseph Zelina
GE Aviation,
Evendale, OH 45241
e-mail: [email protected]
Daniel Richardson
NRC Research Associate,
Wright-Patterson AFB, OH 45433
e-mail: [email protected]
Experimental Studies
of Cavity and Core Flow
Interactions With Application
to Ultra-Compact Combustors
Reducing the weight and decreasing pressure losses of aviation gas turbine engines
improves the thrust-to-weight ratio and improves efficiency. In ultra-compact combustors
(UCC), engine length is reduced and pressure losses are decreased by merging a combustor with adjacent components using a systems engineering approach. High-pressure
turbine inlet vanes can be placed in a combustor to form a UCC. In this work, experiments were performed to understand the performance and associated physics within a
UCC. Experiments were performed using a combustor operating at pressures in the
range of 520–1030 kPa (75–150 psia) and inlet temperature equal to 480–620 K
(865 R–1120 R). The primary reaction zone is in a single trapped-vortex cavity where the
equivalence ratio was varied from 0.7 to 1.8. Combustion efficiencies and NOx emissions
were measured and exit temperature profiles were obtained for various air loadings, cavity equivalence ratios, and configurations with and without representative turbine inlet
vanes. A combined diffuser-flameholder (CDF) was used to study the interaction of cavity
and core flows. Discrete jets of air immediately above the cavity result in the highest
combustion efficiencies. The air jets reinforce the vortex structure within the cavity, as
confirmed through coherent structure velocimetry of high-speed images. The combustor
exit temperature profile is peaked away from the cavity when a CDF is used. Testing of a
CDF with vanes showed that combustion efficiencies greater than 99.5% are possible for
0.8 Ucavity 1.8. Temperature profiles at the exit of the UCC with vanes agreed within
10% of the average value. Exit-averaged emission indices of NOx ranged from 3.5 to
6.5 g/kgfuel for all test conditions. Increasing the air loading enabled greater mass flow
rates of fuel with equivalent combustion efficiencies. This corresponds to increased vortex
strength within the cavity due to the greater momentum of the air driver jets.
[DOI: 10.1115/1.4026975]
Andrew Caswell
Spectral Energies, LLC,
Dayton, OH 45431
e-mail: [email protected]
Reducing the weight of aviation gas turbine engines and
decreasing pressure losses improves the thrust-to-weight ratio and
improves thermal efficiency, respectively. Decreasing the size of
individual components (e.g., compressor and combustor) is one
approach to reducing the size and weight of an engine. However,
reductions in the size of individual components are limited by the
axial length or residence time required to complete reactions or
produce acceptable flows.
In ultracompact combustors (UCCs), the engine length is
reduced and pressure losses are decreased by merging a combustor with adjacent components using a systems engineering
approach [1–5]. Specifically, the high-pressure turbine inlet vanes,
which are normally situated at the combustor exit, are integrated
Now with the School of Mechanical, Industrial, and Manufacturing Engineering
at Oregon State University.
Contributed by the Combustion and Fuels Committee of ASME for publication in
December 19, 2013; final manuscript received January 17, 2014; published online
March 26, 2014. Editor: David Wisler.
into the combustor [6]. Thus, the flow is turned and accelerated
within the combustor prior to entering the first stage of the highpressure turbine. UCCs have the potential to be used as main combustors or as interturbine burners (ITBs). When used as the main
burner, a UCC can reduce the length of the engine, as illustrated
in Fig. 1. A study has also characterized eliminating the compressor outlet guide vanes (OGV) upstream of the combustor [7]. By
eliminating the OGV (i.e., 2.1 cm, 0.8 in), anchoring the reactions
in a cavity, and merging the turbine inlet vane within the combustor (i.e., 5 cm, 2 in), the length of the system can be reduced to
30.5 cm (12 in). This 30% reduction in length may decrease the
weight of an engine by 2.4%, ignoring changes in the weight
resulting from differences in structural requirements, nacelle, and
airframe. When a UCC is used as an ITB, the length of the engine
may not be reduced; however, additional energy supplied to the
turbine can be used for power extraction or increased thrust [8,9].
Two types of UCCs have been reported in the literature: (1)
high-g [6,10,11] and (2) trapped-vortex combustors (TVC)
[12–14]. In a high-g combustor, the fuel and air are swirled in the
azimuthal direction (around the engine centerline) in a cavity that
is recessed from the flow. In a TVC, vortices that have an axis of
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C 2014 by ASME
Copyright V
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Fig. 1 Illustration of UCC (top) and conventional combustor
(bottom) integrated into an engine [7]
rotation tangent to the circumference of the combustor are within
a cavity. Fuel-rich combustion products migrate from the high-g
or trapped-vortex cavities into the core flow, where the combustion process is completed.
Several studies have documented the fluid-mechanic interactions of the flows within a cavity and the cross stream. Sturgess
and Hsu [12] quantified the entrainment of the core flow into the
cavity of a TVC that results from cavity vortex motion and conservation of momentum of the fuel and air jets. Air was entrained
from the cavity into the core flow for momentum ratios of the cavity with respect to the mainstream that were near 0.2. Air from the
mainstream was entrained into the cavity at momentum ratios
greater than 0.3 because of pumping of the air jets in the cavity.
Burguburu et al. [14] showed that the size and rotation of the vortex structures within the cavity depend on the ratio of the main
and core mass flows (i.e., proportional to momentum ratios),
based on particle-imaging velocimetry measurements. Further
research is needed to extend this work and quantify the influence
of the interaction of core and cavity flows on parameters such as
combustion efficiency and pollutant emissions.
Studies have been conducted on placing vanes in the core flow
above the cavity as a method of turning the flow and improving
the mass transfer of exhaust products into the mainstream
[3,10,15]. Regions of low pressure that form along the vanes
cause the fluid in the cavity to migrate into the core flow. Sekar
et al. [16] calculated the mass transfer of fluid from the cavity into
the core flow for a trapped-vortex arrangement with no vanes,
smooth vanes, and vanes with notches. Adding vanes to the flow
improved the mixing and vorticity but increased the pressure
losses by up to 6%. The addition of notches in the vanes tended to
create helical spiral-vortex rings that increased the distribution of
the hot exhaust into the core flow [16]. Ramps placed in the flow
(instead of vanes) resulted in a temperature distribution at the exit
that was more parabolic than that for configurations with vanes
[5]. Experimental data are needed to validate the calculated results
and provide insight into the fluid mechanics within the cavity and
core flows.
The objective of this study was to provide insights into the
physical and chemical processes associated with the interaction
of core and cavity flows within a TVC-based UCC system.
Assessments were made regarding combustor performance using
measurements made of combustion efficiency, NOx emissions,
and temperature profiles for various cavity and front-end
Experimental Approach
Combustor Testing. Testing of a planar section of a UCC was
performed to assess the combustion efficiency, NOx emissions,
temperature profile, and fluid mechanics within the cavity for various combustor configurations and momentum ratios. The core
flow entered the front of the combustor and flowed either through
one of two configurations, either around the turbine inlet vanes
(see Fig. 2) or through a series of discrete air jets in the combined
diffuser-flameholder (CDF) (see Fig. 3). The former configuration
091505-2 / Vol. 136, SEPTEMBER 2014
Fig. 2 UCC (side view) with CDF-2 with turbine inlet vanes
above the cavity. (a) Photograph of top view of experimental
arrangement. (b) Illustration of side view of combustor where
air driver jets and inlets are shown in blue, fuel injectors in
green, and effusion cooling in red.
Fig. 3 UCC (side view) with CDF at the inlet to the combustor
and turbine inlet vanes removed. Air from driver jets and inlets
is shown in blue, fuel injectors are shown in green, and effusion
cooling in red.
is representative of a UCC, while the latter was used to assess
changes resulting from different air distributions between the core
and cavity with no vane present. For both configurations, the fuel
and air mix in the cavity, react, migrate from the cavity into the
core flow (where reactions continue), and then move through the
row of deswirling vanes located at the exit (see Fig. 2). The deswirling vanes were used to straighten the flow and avoid unnecessary lateral forces on the experimental arrangement. These vanes
do not represent components within an engine.
Experiments were performed with the CDF located along the
leading edge of the cavity (see Fig. 3) for all configurations except
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when the vanes were used. Using the CDF permitted the number
and height of the jets relative to the cavity to be varied. This
facilitated improved understanding of the key physics associated
with mass transport within and from the cavity, without the complexity of turbine inlet vanes. The CDF consisted of three rows
and seven columns of discrete air passages (i.e., Pa), as illustrated
in Fig. 3. The normalized vertical spacing between the rows of the
CDF passages was dp/H ¼ 0.4. The face of the CDF and the discrete nature of the jets aided the device in serving as a flameholder
for the combustion products migrating from the cavity. Various
rows of passages were blocked to study the effect of changes in
the effective forward wall geometry and air flow distribution on
combustor performance.
In order to accommodate the turning vanes, a new combined
diffuser-flameholder (CDF-2) was constructed with the same air
flow split and inlet air flow trajectory as that of the ideal CDF configuration. All experiments run with the CDF-2 had the same cavity air loading and forward-to-aft air driver momentum ratio as
that of the CDF configuration. Experiments were performed on
the CDF-2 without vanes as a comparison to the baseline CDF
configuration. This configuration without vanes had slightly lower
inlet air velocities than the CDF configuration due to the lack of
the blockage from the vanes. Experiments were also performed on
the CDF-2 with vanes (CDF-2 V) to assess the vane’s impact on
combustion efficiency and exit temperature profile. The vanes had
an axial length that was a factor of 2.0 greater than the combustor
inlet height (H) and were designed to turn the flow 40 deg. It was
anticipated that the low-pressure regions that form around the
vane aid in mass transport from the cavity into the core flow. The
vanes were water-cooled to ensure their survival at the hightemperature conditions.
Fuel (JP-8) was injected into the cavity along the forward face
through six pressure atomizers for all configurations. A row of air
jets was placed below the fuel injectors along the forward face. A
second row of air jets was placed along the aft wall of the cavity
(see Figs. 2 and 3). These air jets help to promote mixing of the
fuel and air and drive a large vortex within the cavity. The diameter of the air driver jets were adjusted between experiments to provide different air loadings and momentum ratios between the air
jets. The pressure drop of the fuel through the atomizer was nominally between 300 and 2600 kPa (45–380 psia), based on the
desired equivalence ratio within the cavity.
Experiments were conducted at 520–1040 kPa (75–150 psia)
and inlet temperatures equal to 480–620 K (865 R–1120 R). For
brevity, only measurements made at 690 kPa (100 psia) and an
inlet temperature equal to 530 K (960 R) are reported, unless otherwise noted.
Measurements. Three emissions rakes were located between
the trailing edges of the deswirling vanes (see Fig. 2(a)) and used
to pull exhaust samples to the gas analyzers. Each rake had five
gas-sampling probes distributed across the height of the combustor. Nondispersive infrared analyzers (X-STREAM, X2GP),
chemiluminescent (Eco Physics, CLD 700 AL), and flameionization detectors (Beckman, 402) were used to measure the
concentration of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, NOx, and
total unburned hydrocarbons, respectively. The uncertainty of the
emission rake measurements is 63%, based on manufacturer
specifications. The measurements were used to establish the combustion efficiency of each configuration and determine the exit
temperatures, assuming chemical equilibrium. Combustion efficiency represents the portion of the carbon in the fuel that is converted into carbon dioxide. The probes were water-cooled to
protect the instrumentation and to help quench the combustion
products within the sampling elements. The overall combustion
efficiency and NOx emissions of the combustor were recorded by
collecting samples from all 15 probes simultaneously (i.e., three
rakes with five probes each). This produced a height and widthaveraged sample of the combustion products. The reported
Journal of Engineering for Gas Turbines and Power
temperature profiles were determined by averaging the temperatures (based on emission measurements) at the same height on all
three rakes. Thus, the temperature profiles were width-averaged
for the combustor. Reporting the global combustion efficiency
and average temperature profile helped to reduce the impact of
wall effects on the results and allowed for relative comparisons
between different operating conditions.
Combustion efficiency is reported for various cavity equivalence ratios, forward-to-aft momentum ratios, and air loadings
within the cavity. Air loading (AL) is defined as
AL ¼
m_ air
Pinlet 1:75 Tinlet
e 300
where m_ air is the air mass flow into the cavity in kg/s, Vcavity is the
volume of the cavity in m3, Pinlet is the plenum total pressure in
kPa, and Tinlet is the plenum total temperature in Kelvin. An air
loading of 1 kg/m3-s is equal to 0.0624 lbm/ft3-s. Increasing the
air loading while maintaining a constant cavity equivalence ratio
allows additional chemical energy to be released within the
engine. However, excessive loading can lead to lower flame stability, poorer emissions profiles, and lower combustion efficiencies due to higher flame strain rates.
This effort consists of three sets of experiments used to ascertain key physics and operating constraints of the combustor. First,
the number and location of the air passages on the CDF that
allowed air to pass was varied. This allowed the interaction of
cross-flow air jets with flow in the cavity to be better understood
and the influence on combustor performance to be quantified. The
average cavity air loading for these studies was 6.9 kg/s-m3. Four
variations were studied: the row of holes farthest from the cavity
was open (Pa1top), the middle row of holes was open (Pa1middle), the row of holes nearest the cavity was open (Pa1bottom),
and the middle and bottom rows of holes (i.e., nearest the cavity)
were open (Pa2b þ m), as illustrated in Fig. 3. In the second set of
experiments, the forward-to-aft momentum ratio of the air jets in
the cavity was similar and the cavity air loading was varied to
ascertain the influence on combustor performance.
Table 1 presents the conditions for this second set of experiments (i.e., E1.x). The bottom row of holes on the CDF was open
(Pa1bottom), and the remaining holes were blocked. In the third
set of experiments, the Pa1bottom configuration of the CDF was
validated against a similar front end without vanes (CDF-2). This
CDF-2 was then compared to a configuration with vanes installed
(CDF-2 V, Fig. 2). These experiments allowed for a comparison
of the combustor performance and temperature profile between
configurations that used just a CDF front end or used a CDF and
vane combination (i.e., UCC) for cavity-core mixing. The air
loading in the cavity for all cases were matched, and the forwardto-aft momentum ratio was 0.9. Other work has indicated that
momentum ratios greater than or roughly equal to one in the cavity result in the highest combustion efficiencies.
Visible images indicated that the shape of the vortex observed
within the cavity correlated with combustion efficiency. In an
effort to quantify this observation, high-speed (i.e., 20-kHz)
images of the visible flame radiation emitted from the cavity were
processed using coherent-structure velocimetry to obtain pathaveraged estimates of the gas velocities [17]. The relative
Table 1 Combustion parameters for studying influence of air
loading on combustion efficiency. The bottom row of holes on
the CDF was open.
Air loading (kg/s-m )
Forward-to-aft momentum ratio
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u~ij ¼ uij
This approach preserves only the directionality of the vectors.
Figure 4(c) displays a typical magnitude-independent velocity
vector field. Once the unit vector field was obtained, the
magnitude-independent vorticity,
@ u~y @ u~x
was calculated at every point using Eq. (4), as illustrated in
Fig. 4(d). The location of maximum magnitude-independent vor*
ticity (l) was identified as the center of the vortex; indeed, this
was the location in the flow where the streamlines approximately
formed a circle, as would be expected at the center of a vortex.
Using the magnitude-independent vorticity to locate the vortex
center yielded the best agreement with visual inspection of the
images. Attempts to use the magnitude-dependent vor*
ticity (n) to identify the center were biased because the location of
maximum magnitude-dependent vorticity occurred in the shear
layer outside the vortex.
With the center of the vortex determined, the magnitudedependent vorticity,
@uy @ux
was calculated using Eq.* (5) and the velocity field from Eq. (2).
The vortex strength (N) is defined as the average of the
magnitude-dependent vorticity in a 25 25 square pixel region
centered at the vortex center (denoted as white dashed rectangle
in Fig. 4(e)). This pixel window size was chosen because it
accounts for the rotational vorticity of the vortex core and
excludes the majority of the shear-generated vorticity of the aft air
jets. The vortex strengths reported later in this paper are the average from 1000 consecutive high-speed images for each
Results and Discussion
Fig. 4 Illustration of steps used to quantify vortex strength: (a)
false color image of flame luminosity from high-speed movie
showing location of air jets in blue, fuel injector in green, and
effusion cooling in red; (b) representative gas velocities within
combustor cavity based on coherent structure velocimetry; (c)
magnitude-independent velocities; (d) magnitude-independent
vorticity map showing location of vortex center, and (e)
magnitude-dependent vorticity map and sample region used to
find average vorticity value
strengths of the vortices in the cavity for different experimental
configurations were compared by analyzing the velocities. The
results of absolute gas-velocity measurements are not reported
because of the path-averaged nature of the measurements and the
complex three-dimensional nature of the flow within the cavity.
Figure 4 illustrates the image-processing steps used to determine the strength of the large vortex observed within the cavity.
Consecutive images from the high-speed image series (e.g.,
Fig. 4(a)) were employed to determine a two-dimensional velocity
field using standard particle image velocimetry cross-correlation
functions. A multipass algorithm was used with the final subimage
size of 32 32 pixels. The resulting vector field was smoothed
and filtered based on the variance of nearby vectors. Figure 4(b)
shows representative calculated velocity fields. These vectors (u)
of the form
uij ¼ ux i^þ uy j^
were normalized by their respective magnitudes (juj) to produce a
unit vector field,
091505-4 / Vol. 136, SEPTEMBER 2014
This section addresses three aspects of a UCC: (1) the sensitivity of combustor performance to changes in the distribution of
core-flow air into the combustor, (2) the cavity air-loading range
over which the combustor can be operated, and (3) the impact of
the CDF (i.e., distributed core flow air) or turbine inlet vanes on
combustion efficiency and temperature profiles. Changes in the
fluid mechanics and combustion properties are discussed for the
three aspects.
Interaction With Combined Diffuser-Flameholder. Experiments were performed to aid in understanding the impact of discrete jets of air entering the front of the combustor on combustor
performance. Comparisons of combustion efficiency, NOx emissions, and profile factors were made with the top (i.e., Pa1top),
middle (i.e., Pa1middle), bottom (Pa1bottom), and bottom and
middle (Pa2b þ m) rows of holes open on the CDF. The data
serve as a baseline for comparisons when a vane is present, as discussed in the next section.
The combustion efficiency and vortex strength for the various
CDF configurations are shown in Fig. 5. The forward-to-aft momentum ratios were nominally 0.9, and the cavity-air loadings
were 7 kg/s-m3. The configurations with the bottom row of holes
open (Pa1bot and Pa2b þ m) had combustion efficiencies >99%
for Ucavity < 1.3. The configurations with the bottom row of holes
closed (Pa1top and Pa1mid) had a narrower range (i.e.,
Ucavity < 1.0), over which similar combustion efficiencies were
observed. It was noted that the configurations with the bottom row
of holes open tended to have higher combustion efficiencies at
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Fig. 5 Combustion efficiency and normalized vortex strength
as a function of cavity equivalence ratio for the top (Pa1top),
middle (Pa1middle), bottom (Pa1bottom), and bottom and
middle (Pa2b 1 m) rows of passages open on CDF
similar cavity equivalence ratios than configurations without the
bottom row of holes open. These results show that the interaction
of the bottom row of air jets with the fluid within the cavity has a
beneficial effect on the combustion process.
The vortex strength is plotted on Fig. 5 for comparison and to
provide insight into changes in the fluid mechanics within the cavity. The vortex strength was highest for the combustor configurations with the bottom row of holes of the CDF open (i.e., Pa1bot
and Pa2b þ m); these configurations also had the highest combustion efficiencies. The former configuration, which had the peak
combustion efficiencies, had a vortex strength that was 7% higher
than that of the latter. The two configurations with the bottom row
of holes blocked on the CDF (and the lowest combustion efficiencies) had vortex strengths which were 40% less than that of the
configuration with the bottom row of holes open. These observations indicate that the bottom row of CDF air jets reinforces the
vortex within the cavity. It is plausible that stronger vortical structures improve combustion efficiency by enhancing mixing
between the fuel and air and increasing the residence time within
the cavity for completing reactions.
Figure 6 displays emission indices of NOx corresponding to
the test results reported in Fig. 5. The configurations with the
Fig. 6 Emission indices of NOx for experiments corresponding
to combustion efficiencies reported in Fig. 7
Journal of Engineering for Gas Turbines and Power
lowest combustion efficiencies and the smallest vortex strength
(i.e., bottom passage closed) have the highest NOx emissions
(4.5 < EINOx < 6.5 g/kgfuel). Conversely, the configurations with
the highest combustion efficiencies and greatest vortex strength
(i.e., bottom passage open) have the lowest NOx emissions (at an
equivalent Ucavity).
Normalized exit temperature profiles for the various CDF configurations are reported in Fig. 7. The temperature profiles were
obtained in between the trailing edge of the deswirler vanes. The
general trend of the normalized temperature profiles was similar
for the various configurations of the CDF. Peak temperatures were
observed for 0.3 < yc/H < 0.5, where yc ¼ 0 corresponds to the
cavity-side liner and yc ¼ 1 to the opposite-side liner (see Fig. 3).
Separation of the peak temperature from the cavity-side liner (i.e.,
yc/H ¼ 0) results from fuel-rich combustion products being transported from the cavity along the face of the CDF and reacting
with the discrete jets of air. The lowest temperature occurs near
the liner opposite the cavity (i.e., yc/H ¼ 0.9); this is expected,
since combustion products from the cavity must propagate farthest
to this location. The configuration with the row of CDF holes
open nearest the cavity (Pa1bot) exhibited the most uniform temperature distribution. The temperature varied within 15% of the
mean. In the other configurations, the temperature varied by as
much as 30% with respect to the mean.
Cavity Air Loading. The sensitivity of combustion efficiency
to changes in air loading was measured for the configuration with
the bottom row of air holes open along the CDF. This configuration was chosen because it typically had the highest combustion
efficiencies at equivalence ratios greater than unity. The diameter
of the air holes on the cavity was varied between configurations to
allow greater air loadings in the cavity (i.e., greater air mass
flows), while the forward-to-aft momentum ratio was fixed
between 0.9 and 1. Configuration E1.1 had the highest average air
loading and E1.3 had the lowest (see Table 1).
Contour plots of combustion efficiency for different cavity
equivalence ratios and air loadings are shown in Fig. 8. The contour lines and colors in the figure are interpolated from the data
(points) and represent levels of combustion efficiency varying
from 96% (blue) to 100% (red). The configuration with the highest average air loadings (E1.1) had combustion efficiencies >99%
for 0.8 Uc 1.4 and for 4.8 < AL < 9.6 kg/m3-s. In contrast, the
configuration with the lowest average air loading (E1.3) had similar combustion efficiencies for 0.9 Uc 1.7 and for
3.2 < AL < 6 kg/m3-s. To summarize, as the air loading was
increased, the range of cavity equivalence ratios over which combustion efficiencies are greater than 99% shifted toward lower
Fig. 7 Normalized exit temperature profiles for testing with
different rows of holes on CDF open
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Fig. 9 Combustion efficiency for three air loadings and bottom
row of holes on CDF open
shifted toward higher values and became wider. Configuration
E1.1 (i.e., highest air loading) had combustion efficiencies >99%
for normalized fuel mass flows between 0.5 and 0.9. Conversely,
configuration E1.3 (i.e., lowest air loading) had similar efficiencies for normalized fuel mass flows between 0.4 and 0.7. For combustor control over a wide range of engine-operating conditions,
the combustion efficiency must remain sufficiently high for a
wide range of fuel mass flows. Configuration E1.1 exhibits the
widest turndown ratio but suffers at lower power conditions. Configuration E1.3 has a smaller operating range but performs better
at lower power.
The vortex strength varied significantly among the three air
loadings, with the lowest vortex strength correlating with the lowest air loading (E1.3), the medium with the middle air loading
(E1.2), and the highest with the highest air loading (E1.1). Indeed,
configurations E1.1 had a 70% higher air loading for a nearly 60%
higher vortex strength than configuration E1.3. The higher air
loading increases the momentum of the air jets entering the cavity
and reinforces the large vortex within the cavity.
Figure 10 displays emission indices of NOx corresponding to
the results reported in Figs. 8 and 9. The emissions generally
increase monotonically with respect to the cavity equivalence
ratio. Minimum NOx emissions (3.5 g/kgfuel) were observed
near cavity equivalence ratios equal to 0.7, while peak values
(6 g/kgfuel) were observed near a cavity equivalence ratio equal
to 1.6. Increasing the cavity equivalence ratio increased the fuelto-air ratio and the temperature within the combustor.
Fig. 8 Combustion efficiency (colored contours) as cavity air
loading and cavity equivalence ratio were varied for configurations with bottom row of air jets open along the CDF (Pa1bot).
The three panels correspond to different inlet areas of the
driver jets in the cavity.
values and became narrower. The contour plots illustrate a tradeoff between cavity air loading and cavity equivalence ratio as the
region of highest combustion efficiency widens at lower air loadings and narrows at higher air loadings.
The combustion efficiency in Fig. 8 corresponding to testing at
an inlet pressure of 690 kPa is plotted with respect to the fuel
mass flow rate in Fig. 9. The corresponding vortex strength is
included in the plot. Recall that increasing the air loading requires
an increase in fuel mass flow rate for a constant cavity equivalence ratio. As the air loading was increased, the range of fuel
mass flows over which combustion efficiencies exceed 99%
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Fig. 10 Emission indices of NOx for three air loadings and
bottom row of holes on CDF open (E1.x)
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Turning Vanes. The Pa1bot arrangement of the CDF, which
had the best combustion efficiencies, was used as a guide for
designing a modified CDF (i.e., CDF-2), which allowed the incorporation of turning vanes (i.e., CDF-2 V). This enabled comparison of combustion performance for the original and updated CDF
configurations and a UCC with a vane.
The combustion efficiencies for testing performed using the
three configurations are shown in Fig. 11. The combustion efficiency for the CDF-2 was comparable to that of the CDF at a
Ucavity ¼ 0.7 and slightly higher at Ucavity ¼ 1.1. The results indicate that the combustor performance was similar using the two
CDF designs for the limited data points for comparison (due to
experimental limitations). This was not surprising considering that
both configurations are designed to have the same fluid mechanics
within the cavity by having the core flow across the top of the
cavity through discrete jets.
With confidence in the modified CDF design, turning vanes
were incorporated into the combustor. The combustion efficiency
for CDF-2 V, as shown in Fig. 11, was greater than the original
CDF configuration for all cavity equivalence ratios and greater
than or equal to the results for the CDF-2 arrangement. Combustion efficiencies greater than 99.5% are observed over the entire
range of cavity equivalence ratios tested (0.8 Ucavity 1.8). The
greater range of cavity equivalence ratios tested was enabled by
water cooling of the vanes and confidence in the survivability of
the combustor. The improved combustion efficiency with the
inclusion of vanes is attributed to the development of vortical
structures, which enhance mixing of the cavity products with the
cross-flowing air. Note that the vortex strength is not reported for
comparison. Visible observations of the flame indicated that the
vortex strength may not be an appropriate metric for quantifying
the apparent fluid mechanics within the cavity for the configurations beyond the baseline CDF.
The temperature profiles of the CDF (Pa1bot), CDF-2, and
CDF-2 V configurations are shown in Fig. 12 for comparison.
Both the CDF-2 and CDF-2 V configurations had temperature profiles which were within 10% of the mean value, whereas the CDF
configuration had a profile within 12%. The CDF-2 configuration
had a higher peaked profile at 70% height, whereas the CDF and
CDF-2 V configurations were peaked at 30%. The greater height
of the peak temperature for the CDF-2 configuration indicates that
hot combustion products from the cavity penetrate farther into the
cross flow. These results are surprising, considering that vanes
should enhance mass transport from the cavity (due to pressure gradients), yet this is not observed. This requires further investigation
Fig. 11 Combustion efficiency as a function of cavity equivalence
ratio for the Pa1bot CDF, the CDF-2, and the CDF-2 with vanes
Journal of Engineering for Gas Turbines and Power
Fig. 12 Normalized exit temperature profile for testing with
the Pa1bot CDF, the CDF-2, and the CDF-2 with vanes
and is beyond the scope of the current effort. The 612% variation
in the temperature profile for the three configurations may be
manageable for turbine inlet temperatures but does not achieve an
optimal 50% temperature peak. In an effort to increase penetration
of exhaust products from the cavity into the core flow and
improve the temperature profiles, Briones et al. [4,18] numerically
investigated vane designs with notches or dimples included on the
suction side of the vane. Improvements in the temperature profiles
relative to a smooth vane (current work) were predicted for several configurations. The improvements are attributed to the
notches or dimples creating localized regions with lower pressure
along the vane and improving mixing and mass transport from the
cavity into the core flow.
A trapped-vortex UCC was used to study the effect of inlet air
distribution, air loading, and turning vanes on combustion efficiencies, exit temperature profiles, and NOx emissions. Higher
combustion efficiencies typically corresponded to greater vortex
strengths, as measured by coherent structure velocimetry of combusting gases in the cavity when the CDF is used. Well-developed
vortical structures enhance mixing between the fuel and air and
increase the residence time, thus increasing the combustion efficiency. Emission indices of NOx were between 3.5 and 6.5 g/kgfuel
for all test conditions.
Increasing the cavity air loading decreases the range of cavity
equivalence ratios where peak combustion efficiencies are
observed. However, increasing the air loading enabled greater
mass flow rates of fuel (i.e., chemical energy release) with equivalent combustion efficiencies.
Discrete jets of air immediately above the cavity opening (i.e.,
Pa1bottom) produce the highest combustion efficiencies as a
result of strengthening the vortex trapped within the cavity. The
temperature distribution at the combustor exit is more uniform
(i.e., within 10% of average) for this configuration than for those
with a vane (i.e., within 30% of average). This is a result of the
discrete jets of air and the bluff-body nature of the CDF aiding in
transport of the combustion products out of the cavity. Testing
with a vane and a similar front-end configuration showed a 10%
variation in the temperature profile with respect to the mean.
Including a turning vane led to an increase in the combustion efficiencies for a broader range of cavity equivalence ratios.
Brad Day, Justin Inman, Dave Baker, and Ron Britton (Innovative Scientific Solutions, Inc. (ISSI)) helped with data collection.
SEPTEMBER 2014, Vol. 136 / 091505-7
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Jack Yoder, also from ISSI, provided the combustor drawings.
Ryan Battelle (AFRL) performed the cycle analysis. Marion Whitaker aided in revising the manuscript. Rebecca Howard (UTC)
integrated diffusor studies supportive of this work. Pete Koch
(AFRL) aided in the design of the turbine inlet vane that was
placed in the combustor. This material is based on research sponsored by the Air Force Research Laboratory under contract nos.
FA8650-10-2-2934 and F33615-03-D-2329. The U.S. Government is authorized to reproduce and distribute reprints for governmental purposes notwithstanding any copyright notation thereon.
The views and conclusions contained herein are those of the
authors and should not be interpreted as necessarily representing
the official policies or endorsements, either expressed or implied,
of the Air Force Research Laboratory or the U.S. Government.
AL ¼
CE ¼
dexit ¼
dinlet ¼
m_ air ¼
m_ fuel ¼
Pinlet ¼
Pa ¼
Tavg ¼
Tinlet ¼
Vcavity ¼
VS ¼
yc ¼
air loading within cavity
combined diffuser-flameholder
combustion efficiency
cavity depth
diffuser exit height
diffuser inlet height
height of combustor inlet
interturbine burner
air mass flow rate
fuel mass flow rate
compressor outlet guide vane
inlet pressure
air passage through CDF
average temperature
inlet temperature
trapped-vortex combustor
velocity vector
ultracompact combustor
volume of cavity
vortex strength
width of cavity
vertical distance from top of cavity
Greek Symbols
Ucavity ¼
vorticity (magnitude-dependent)
vorticity (magnitude-independent)
average value of magnitude-dependent vorticity
equivalence ratio in cavity
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091505-8 / Vol. 136, SEPTEMBER 2014
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Transactions of the ASME
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