Heat and Mass Transfer

, Volume 49, Issue 2, pp 219-231

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Experimental and modeling investigation of the effect of air preheat on the formation of NOx in an RQL combustor

  • G. S. SamuelsenAffiliated withUCI Combustion Laboratory, University of California, Irvine
  • , J. BrouwerAffiliated withUCI Combustion Laboratory, University of California, Irvine
  • , M. A. VardakasAffiliated withUCI Combustion Laboratory, University of California, IrvineSolar Turbines
  • , J. D. HoldemanAffiliated withNational Aeronautics and Space Administration Email author 


The Rich-burn/Quick–mix/Lean-burn (RQL) combustor concept has been proposed to minimize the formation of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) in gas turbine systems. The success of this low-NOx combustor strategy is dependent upon the links between the formation of NOx, inlet air preheat temperature, and the mixing of the jet air and fuel-rich streams. Chemical equilibrium and kinetics modeling calculations and experiments were performed to further understand NOx emissions in an RQL combustor. The results indicate that as the temperature at the inlet to the mixing zone increases (due to preheating and/or operating conditions) the fuel-rich zone equivalence ratio must be increased to achieve minimum NOx formation in the primary zone of the combustor. The chemical kinetics model illustrates that there is sufficient residence time to produce NOx at concentrations that agree well with the NOx measurements. Air preheat was found to have very little effect on mixing, but preheating the air did increase NOx emissions significantly. By understanding the mechanisms governing NOx formation and the temperature dependence of key reactions in the RQL combustor, a strategy can be devised to further reduce NOx emissions using the RQL concept.