Experimental and numerical investigation of laminar flame speeds of H₂/CO/CO₂/N₂ mixtures

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Natarajan, Jayaprakash
Seitzman, Jerry M.
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Coal derived synthetic gas (syngas) fuel is a promising solution for today s increasing demand for clean and reliable power. Syngas fuels are primarily mixtures of H2 and CO, often with large amounts of diluents such as N2, CO2, and H2O. The specific composition depends upon the fuel source and gasification technique. This requires gas turbine designers to develop fuel flexible combustors capable of operating with high conversion efficiency while maintaining low emissions for a wide range of syngas fuel mixtures. Design tools often used in combustor development require data on various fundamental gas combustion properties. For example, laminar flame speed is often an input as it has a significant impact upon the size and static stability of the combustor. Moreover it serves as a good validation parameter for leading kinetic models used for detailed combustion simulations. Thus the primary objective of this thesis is measurement of laminar flame speeds of syngas fuel mixtures at conditions relevant to ground-power gas turbines. To accomplish this goal, two flame speed measurement approaches were developed: a Bunsen flame approach modified to use the reaction zone area in order to reduce the influence of flame curvature on the measured flame speed and a stagnation flame approach employing a rounded bluff body. The modified Bunsen flame approach was validated against stretch-corrected approaches over a range of fuels and test conditions; the agreement is very good (less than 10% difference). Using the two measurement approaches, extensive flame speed information were obtained for lean syngas mixtures at a range of conditions: 1) 5 to 100% H2 in the H2/CO fuel mixture; 2) 300-700 K preheat temperature; 3) 1 to 15 atm pressure, and 4) 0-70% dilution with CO2 or N2. The second objective of this thesis is to use the flame speed data to validate leading kinetic mechanisms for syngas combustion. Comparisons of the experimental flame speeds to those predicted using detailed numerical simulations of strained and unstrained laminar flames indicate that all the current kinetic mechanisms tend to over predict the increase in flame speed with preheat temperature for medium and high H2 content fuel mixtures. A sensitivity analysis that includes reported uncertainties in rate constants reveals that the errors in the rate constants of the reactions involving HO2 seem to be the most likely cause for the observed higher preheat temperature dependence of the flame speeds. To enhance the accuracy of the current models, a more detailed sensitivity analysis based on temperature dependent reaction rate parameters should be considered as the problem seems to be in the intermediate temperature range (~800-1200 K).
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