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The Effect of Hydrogen Containing Fuel Blends Upon Flashback in Swirl Burners


Lean premixed swirl combustion is widely used in gas turbines and many other combustion Processes due to the benefits of good flame stability and blow off limits coupled with low NOx emissions. Although flashback is not generally a problem with natural gas combustion, there are some reports of flashback damage with existing gas turbines, whilst hydrogen enriched fuel blends, especially those derived from gasification of coal and/or biomass/industrial processes such as steel making, cause concerns in this area. Thus, this paper describes a practical experimental approach to study and reduce the effect of flashback in a compact design of generic swirl burner representative of many systems. A range of different fuel blends are investigated for flashback and blow off limits; these fuel mixes include methane, methane/hydrogen blends, pure hydrogen and coke oven gas. Swirl number effects are investigated by varying the number of inlets or the configuration of the inlets. The well known Lewis and von Elbe critical boundary velocity gradient expression is used to characterise flashback and enable comparison to be made with other available data. Two flashback phenomena are encountered here. The first one at lower swirl numbers involves flashback through the outer wall boundary layer where the crucial parameter is the critical boundary velocity gradient, Gf. Values of Gf are of similar magnitude to those reported by Lewis and von Elbe for laminar flow conditions, and it is recognised that under the turbulent flow conditions pertaining here actual gradients in the thin swirl flow boundary layer are much higher than occur under laminar flow conditions. At higher swirl numbers the central recirculation zone (CRZ) becomes enlarged and extends backwards over the fuel injector to the burner baseplate and causes flashback to occur earlier at higher velocities. This extension of the CRZ is complex, being governed by swirl number, equivalence ratio and Reynolds Number. Under these conditions flashback occurs when the cylindrical flame front surrounding the CRZ rapidly accelerates outwards to the tangential inlets and beyond, especially with hydrogen containing fuel mixes. Conversely at lower swirl numbers with a modified exhaust geometry, hence restricted CRZ, flashback occurs through the outer thin boundary layer at much lower flow rates when the hydrogen content of the fuel mix does not exceed 30%. The work demonstrates that it is possible to run premixed swirl burners with a wide range of hydrogen fuel blends so as to substantially minimise flashback behaviour, thus permitting wider used of the technology to reduce NOx emissions.

Related subjects: Hydrogen Blending ; Safety
Countries: United Kingdom

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