Subgrid Model Influence in Large Eddy Simulations of Non-reacting Flow in a Gas Turbine Combustor


Fuel efficiency improvement and harmful emission reduction are the paramount driving forces for development of gas turbine combustors. Lean-burn combustors can accomplish these goals, but require specific flow topologies to overcome their sensitivity to combustion instabilities. Large Eddy Simulations (LES) can accurately capture these complex and intrinsically unsteady flow fields, but estimating the appropriate numerical resolution and subgrid model(s) still remain challenges. This paper discusses the prediction of non-reacting flow fields in the DLR gas turbine model combustor using LES. Several important features of modern gas turbine combustors are present in this model combustor: multiple air swirlers and recirculation zones for flame stabilisation. Good overall agreement is obtained between LES outcomes and experimental results, both in terms of time-averaged and temporal RMS values. Findings of this study include a strong dependence of the opening angle of the swirling jet inside the combustion chamber on the subgrid viscosity, which acts mainly through the air mass flow split between the two swirlers in the DLR model combustor. This paper illustrates the ability of LES to obtain accurate flow field predictions in complex gas turbine combustors making use of open-source software and computational resources available to industry.

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Support of the EU PRACE-3IP project (FP7 RI-312763) and SURFsara (The Netherlands) is gratefully acknowledged; the assistance from SURFsara’s consultant John Donners deserves to be noted specifically. Financial support by the Nederlandse Vereniging voor Vlamonderzoek (NVV) is also greatly appreciated. The authors thank Wolfgang Meier and Michael Stöhr from DLR, Germany for sharing the combustor geometry and experimental data for comparisons.

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Correspondence to W. J. S. Ramaekers.

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Ramaekers, W.J.S., Tap, F.A. & Boersma, B.J. Subgrid Model Influence in Large Eddy Simulations of Non-reacting Flow in a Gas Turbine Combustor. Flow Turbulence Combust 100, 457–479 (2018).

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  • Gas turbine combustor
  • Turbulent swirling flow
  • Large eddy simulation