Influence of inlet acoustic boundary condition on large amplitude combustion instabilities : design of a robust impedance control system
Combustion instabilities induced by a resonant flame-acoustic coupling are commonly observed in most applications of combustion from gas turbines to domestic or industrial boilers. These oscillations are detrimental by nature, and are still very difficult to predict at the design stage of a combustor. They imply numerous physical phenomena at multiple scales. They mainly result from a resonant coupling between the unsteady combustion and the acoustics of the system. The basic driving and coupling mechanisms have been extensively studied: acoustics in complex geometries and combustion dynamics of turbulent swirled flames are now reasonably well understood. However the effects of the acoustic boundary conditions on the system stability are less well documented, as they are not easy to access or to control in practical systems. They are however of prime importance as they determine the acoustic fluxes at the inlets and outlets of the combustor, as well as the preferential eigenfrequencies of the system. The main objective of this study is to investigate experimentally the influence of the inlet boundary condition of a generic turbulent burner on the observed self-sustained thermoacoustic oscillations. To carry out this investigation, a passive control solution has been developed. An innovative use of perforated panels with bias flow backed by tunable cavities allows to control the acoustic impedance at the inlet of a lean swirled-stabilized staged combustor (CTRL-Z facility). This impedance control system (ICS) has been initially designed and tested in a high load impedance tube. This facility also allowed to develop a robust impedance measurement technique, along with experimental protocols to measure acoustic velocities and fluxes. The acoustic response of perforates in both linear and nonlinear regimes was investigated as function of the plate porosity, bias flow velocity, back-cavity depth and incident pressure wave amplitude and frequency. The transition between the linear regime and the detrimental nonlinear regime has been linked to the perforates geometrical and operational parameters. As a result the ICS enables control of its acoustic reflection coefficient from 1 to 0 in a wide frequency range, 100 to 1000 Hz, for low and large incident pressure amplitudes (from 100 to 150 dB). The ICS, once implemented on the CTRL-Z facility, allowed to passively control the inlet boundary condition of the combustion rig. The impedance measurement technique was successfully used in harsh combustion situations, with high noise levels, to obtain in-situ measurements of the ICS impedance. Spectral analysis of the pressure and heat-release rate fluctuations demonstrated damping of the main self-sustained oscillation by up to 20 dB. A quantitative estimation of the acoustic energy balance was then obtained, highlighting the importance of the inlet acoustic flux. In this configuration, this term is of the same order of magnitude as the driving Rayleigh source term. Finally, an acoustic analysis of the combustion rig was led to determine the nature of the observed combustion instabilities modes and examine conditions required for an effective use of the ICS.