Combustion instabilities (thermo-acoustic pressure oscillations) have been recognised for some time as a problem limiting the development of low emissions (e.g., lean burn) gas turbine combustion systems, particularly for aviation propulsion applications. Recently, significant research efforts have been focused on acoustic damping for suppression of combustion instability. Most of this work has either been experimental or based on linear acoustic theory. The last 3-5 years has seen application of density based CFD methods to this problem, but no attempts to use pressure-based CFD methods which are much more commonly used in combustion predictions. The goal of the present work is therefore to develop a pressure-based CFD algorithm in order to predict accurately acoustic propagation and acoustic damping processes, as relevant to gas turbine combustors.
The developed computational algorithm described in this thesis is based on the classical pressure-correction approach, which was modified to allow fluid density variation as a function of pressure in order to simulate acoustic phenomena, which are fundamentally compressible in nature. The fact that the overall flow Mach number of relevance was likely to be low ( mildly compressible flow) also influenced the chosen methodology. For accurate capture of acoustic wave propagation at minimum grid resolution and avoiding excessive numerical smearing/dispersion, a fifth order accurate Weighted Essentially Non-Oscillatory scheme (WENO) was introduced. Characteristic-based boundary conditions were incorporated to enable accurate representation of acoustic excitation (e.g. via a loudspeaker or siren) as well as enable precise evaluation of acoustic reflection and transmission coefficients. The new methodology was first validated against simple (1D and 2D) but well proven test cases for wave propagation and demonstrated low numerical diffusion/dispersion. The proper incorporation of Characteristic-based boundary conditions was validated by comparison against classical linear acoustic analysis of acoustic and entropy waves in quasi-1D variable area duct flows.
The developed method was then applied to the prediction of experimental measurements of the acoustic absorption coefficient for a single round orifice flow. Excellent agreement with experimental data was obtained in both linear and non-linear regimes. Analysis of predicted flow fields both with and without bias flow showed that non-linear acoustic behavior occurred when flow reversal begins inside the orifice. Finally, the method was applied to study acoustic excitation of combustor external aerodynamics using a pre-diffuser/dump diffuser geometry previously studied experimentally at Loughborough University and showed the significance of boundary conditions and shear layer instability to produce a sustained pressure fluctuation in the external aerodynamics
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.