Document Type


Date of Degree


Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Ratner, Albert

First Committee Member

Buchholz, James

Second Committee Member

Butler, P Barry

Third Committee Member

Chen, Lea-Der

Fourth Committee Member

Lin, Ching-Long

Fifth Committee Member

Stanier, Charles


Combustion instability is a process which involves unsteady chemical kinetic, fluid mechanic, and acoustic processes. It can lead to unstable behavior and be detrimental in ways ranging from faster part fatigue to catastrophic system failure. In terms of combustion methodology, combustion instability has been a key issue for lean premixed combustion. The primary objective of this work is to improve understanding of combustion dynamics through an experimental study of lean premixed combustion using a low swirl combustor. This special burner was developed at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and has recently received significant interest from the gas turbine industry.

In these experiments, acoustic perturbations (chamber modes) are imposed on a low swirl stabilized methane-air flame using loudspeakers. The flame response is examined and quantified with OH planar laser induced fluorescence. Rayleigh index maps of the flame are computed for each frequency and operating condition. Examining the structures in the Rayleigh maps, it is evident that, while the flame shows no significant response in some cases, acoustic forcing in the 70-150 Hz frequency range induces vortex shedding in the flame shear layer. These vortices distort the flame front and generate locally compact and sparse flame areas. This information about the flow field shows that, besides illuminating the combustion dynamics, the Rayleigh index is a useful way to reveal interesting aspects of the underlying flow.

The experiments also revealed other interesting aspects of this flame system. It was found that the flame becomes unstable when the perturbation amplitude reaches 0.7% of the mean pressure. Decreasing the swirl number makes the flame shape more jet-like, but does little to alter the shear-layer coupling. In a similar fashion, increasing the pressure was found to alter the flame shape and flame extent, but the thermo-acoustic coupling and induced large scale structure persisted to 0.34MPa, the highest pressure tested.


combustion, OH-PLIF, thermoacoustic instability


xiii, 126 pages


Copyright 2008 Yun Huang