Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Committee Chair

Mridul Gautam.


Lean-premixed combustion has become an acceptable means of achieving ultra-low NOx emissions from land-based gas turbines. Further reduction may be possible through the use of hydrogen augmented or syngas fuels. However, advanced combustor designs developed to utilize these technologies often encounter thermoacoustic instabilities that may significantly hamper engine performance and shorten component life-cycles. These dynamics, although not fully understood, occur through a complex interaction between variations in heat release rate and acoustic properties of the system, and can be exacerbated by variable fuel properties in natural gas and syngas applications.;Theoretical models of thermoacoustic instabilities have attempted to describe the coupling process through reduced-order models that represent mechanisms suspected of contributing to variations in the heat release rate such as variations in fuel/air mixing, fluctuations of heat release through vortex shedding and periodic changes in the flame structure. These reduced-order models have demonstrated only a modest ability at predicting instabilities even in relatively simple systems. This may be due to the inherent complexity from interacting processes, the use of over-simplifying assumptions and the lack of experimental verification.;In this study a simple conical flame, used to reduce the number of contributing mechanisms, is utilized to experimentally evaluate the relationship between the heat release rate and variations in the flame surface area. Results indicated that while area perturbations can adequately describe the magnitude of heat release fluctuations, the area perturbations are not a direct indicator of the phase of heat release needed for closed-loop stability analysis.;Time-resolved particle image velocimetry was used to quantify the near-field acoustics and the dilatation rate field in the pre- and post-flame regions of the flow. Measurements indicated that multi-dimensional acoustics dominate the pre-combustion flow field with radial and axial acoustic velocities of similar magnitudes. Variations in the flame structure potentially due to alternating regions of positive and negative flame stretch were also observed and may result in variations in the flame speed. As it is common to assume constant flame speed and one-dimensional acoustics, the experimental identification of these altered mechanisms may help to resolve discrepancies compared to a number of published reduced-order models.