The adoption of lean premixed prevaporised combustion systems can reduce NOx emissions from gas turbines, but unfortunately also increases their susceptibility to thermoacoustic instabilities. Initially, acoustic waves can produce heat release fluctuations by a variety of mechanisms, often by perturbing the equivalence ratio. If correctly phased, heat release fluctuations can subsequently generate more acoustic waves, which at high amplitude can result in significant structural damage to the combustor. The prediction of this phenomenon is of great industrial interest.

In previous work, we have coupled a physics based, kinematic model of the flame with a network model to provide the planar acoustic response necessary to close the feedback loop and predict the onset and amplitude of thermoacoustic instabilities in a lab-scale, axisymmetric single burner combustor. The advantage of a time domain approach is that the modal interaction, the influence of harmonics, and flame saturation can be investigated. This paper extends this approach to more realistic, annular geometries, where both planar and circumferential modes must be considered.

In lean premixed prevaporised combustors, fluctuations in equivalence ratio have been shown to be a dominant cause of unsteady combustion. These can occur, for example, due to velocity perturbations in the premix ducts, which can lead to equivalence ratio fluctuations at the fuel injectors, which are subsequently convected downstream to the flame surfaces. Here, they can perturb the heat release by locally altering the flame speed, enthalpy of combustion, and, indirectly, the flame surface area.

In many gas turbine designs, particularly aeroengines, the geometries are composed of a ring of premix ducts linking a plenum and an annular combustor. The most unstable modes are often circumferential modes. The network model is used to characterise the flow response of the geometry to heat fluctuations at an appropriate location, such as the fuel injectors. The heat release at each flame holder is determined in the time domain using the kinematic flame model derived, as a function of the flow perturbations in the premix duct. This approach is demonstrated for an annular ring of burners on a in a simple geometry. The approach is then extended to an industrial type gas turbine combustor, and used to predict the limit cycle amplitudes.

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