A comparison of Georgia Tech’s combustor with a traditional combustor: (Left) A traditional combustor mixes fuel and air before they are injected into the combustion chamber. (Right) Tech’s combustor injects the fuel and air separately into the combusto
Attaining ultra low emissions has become a top priority for combustion researchers as federal and state restrictions on pollution continuously reduce the allowable levels of NOx and CO produced by engines, power plants and industrial processes.
Called the Stagnation Point Reverse Flow Combustor, the Georgia Tech device, originally developed for NASA, significantly reduces NOx and CO emissions in a variety of aircraft engines and gas turbines that burn gaseous or liquid fuels. It burns fuel with NOx emissions below 1 parts per million (ppm) and CO emissions lower than 10 ppm, significantly lower than emissions produced by other combustors.
The project’s initial goal was to develop a low emissions combustor for aircraft engines and power-generating gas turbines that must stably burn large amounts of fuel in a small volume over a wide range of power settings (or fuel flow rates). But the design can be adapted for use in a variety of applications, including something as large as a power generating gas turbine or as small as a water heater in a home.
“We wanted to have all the clean-burning advantages of a low temperature combustion process while burning a large amount of fuel in a small volume,” Zinn said.
The combustor burns fuel in low temperature reactions that occur over a large portion of the combustor. By eliminating all high temperature pockets through better control of the flow of the reactants and combustion products within the combustor, the device produces far lower levels of NOx and CO and avoids acoustic instabilities that are problematic in current low emissions combustors.
To reduce emissions in existing combustors, fuel is premixed with a large amount of swirling air flow prior to injection into the combustor. This requires complex and expensive designs, and the combustion process often excites instabilities that damage the system.
But Georgia Tech’s design eliminates the complexity associated with premixing the fuel and air by injecting the fuel and air separately into the combustor while its shape forces them to mix with one another and with combustion products before ignition occurs.
The project was funded by the NASA University Research Engineering Technology Institute (URETI) Center on Aeropropulsion and Power and Georgia Tech. The primary investigators on the project were Professors Ben T. Zinn, Yedidia Neumeier, Jerry Seitzman and Jeff Jagoda from the School of Aerospace Engineering, and Visiting Research Engineers Yoav Weksler and Ben Ami Hashmonay.
The Georgia Institute of Technology is one of the nation's premiere research universities. Ranked ninth among U.S. News & World Report's top public universities, Georgia Tech educates more than 17,000 students every year through its Colleges of Architecture, Computing, Engineering, Liberal Arts, Management and Sciences. Tech maintains a diverse campus and is among the nation's top producers of women and African-American engineers. The Institute offers research opportunities to both undergraduate and graduate students and is home to more than 100 interdisciplinary units plus the Georgia Tech Research Institute. During the 2004-2005 academic year, Georgia Tech reached $357 million in new research award funding. The Institute also maintains an international presence with campuses in France and Singapore and partnerships throughout the world.
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