Lean premixed combustion is one of the widely used methods for NOx reduction in gas turbines (GT). When this method is used combustion takes place under low Equivalence Ratio (ER) and at relatively low combustion temperature. While reducing temperature decreases NOx formation, lowering temperature reduces the reaction rate of the hydrocarbon–oxygen reactions and deteriorates combustion stability. The objective of the present work was to study the possibility to decrease the lower limit of the stable combustion regime by the injection of free radicals into the combustion zone. A lean premixed gaseous combustor was designed to include a circumferential concentric pilot flame. The pilot combustor operates under rich fuel to air ratio, therefore it generates a significant amount of reactive radicals. The experiments as well as CFD and CHEMKIN simulations showed that despite of the high temperatures obtained in the vicinity of the pilot ring, the radicals’ injection from the pilot combustor has the potential to lower the limit of the global ER (and temperatures) while maintaining stable combustion. Spectrometric measurements along the combustor showed that the fuel-rich pilot flame generates free radicals that augment combustion stability. In order to study the relevant mechanisms responsible for combustion stabilization, CHEMKIN simulations were performed. The developed chemical network model took into account some of the basic parameters of the combustion process: ER, residence time, and the distribution of the reactances along the combustor. The CHEMKIN simulations showed satisfactory agreement with experimental results.

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