Environmental compatibility requires low emission burners for both gas turbine power plants and jet engines. In the past, significant progress has been made in the development of low NOx and CO burners by introducing lean premixed techniques. Unfortunately these burners often have a more pronounced tendency than conventional burner designs to produce combustion driven oscillations. The oscillations may be excited to such an extent that strong pulsation may occur, and this is associated with a risk of engine failure.

In order to describe the acoustical behaviour of the complete burner system, it is crucial to determine the unit function response of the flame itself. Using a new method which was presented in 1996 by Bohn et al. [1] the dynamic flame behaviour can be predicted by means of a full Navier-Stokes-simulation of the complex combustion process for both the steady-state and transient case.

The authors have successfully used this method to obtain the frequency response of turbulent diffusion flames which are mainly controlled by the mixing process. Chemical kinetics become dominant for premixed flames. Therefore, the combustion process of a premixed methane-air mixture is modelled using a systematically reduced 6-step reaction mechanism which takes account of a set of 25 elementary reactions. This reduced mechanism was implemented in the 3D-Navier-Stokes solver in order to perform a combined flow and combustion computation.

The dynamic combustion process of a laminar premixed methane flame in a matrix burner configuration has been investigated. At first, the steady-state combustion process was simulated using the code described above. The results are compared with experimental data. Very good agreement over a wide range of equivalence ratios has been found for quantities such as laminar burning velocity or adiabatic flame temperature. The steady state results are then used as an operating point from which the transient flame behaviour after a sudden jump in the mass flow at the burner inlet has been obtained. Finally, these data lead to the unit function response which can be transferred into frequency space by a Laplace transformation.

The frequency response of the premixed methane flame obtained by a Navier-Stokes simulation has been compared with both experimental as well as analytical solutions. It must be stressed that a pure delay time element which is often used as an analytical formulation is not suitable to describe the dynamic flame behaviour in detail. The frequency response shows the characteristics of a higher order delay time element with several important details.

Parametric studies on the influence of equivalence ratio and the flow pattern of the internal burner fluid flow which are of interest for gas turbine applications, show the importance of the detailed knowledge of the dynamic flame behaviour for the stability analysis of a gas turbine combustor.

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