Combustion at high G-loading offers the promise of higher flame speeds and shorter residence times. Ultra-Compact Combustors (UCC) make use of this phenomenon by injecting air and fuel into a circumferential cavity around the main core flow. Air is injected tangentially into the combustion cavity to induce bulk circumferential swirl. Swirl velocities in the cavity produce a centrifugal load on the flow that is typically expressed in terms of gravitational acceleration, or g-loading. The Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) has developed an experimental facility in which g-loads up to 2000 times the earth’s gravitational field (“2000 g’s”) can be established.
This paper investigates the flow within the combustion cavity to determine conditions that lead to the generation of higher g-loads and longer residence times. This is coupled with the desire to completely combust the fuel — ideally within the combustion cavity. These objectives have led to changes within the AFIT test setup to enable optical access into the primary combustion cavity. Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV), complemented by traditional high-speed video imagery, provided high-fidelity measurements of the velocity fields within the cavity. These experimental measurements were compared to a set of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) solutions. Improved cavity air and fuel injection schemes were evaluated over a range of air flows and equivalence ratios. Increased combustion stability was attained by providing uniform distribution of air drivers. Lean cavity equivalence ratios at a high total airflow resulted in higher g-loads and complete combustion showing promise for utilizing the UCC as a main combustor.