Design and Experimental Study of a High Pressure and Supercritical Methane-Oxygen Burner

Arifur Rahim Chowdhury, University of Texas at El Paso


Directly heated supercritical oxy-fuel power cycles have potential to offer a higher thermal efficiency and lower pollutant emissions compared to existing power cycles. Recent thermodynamic analysis of the cycle performed by several groups including the UTEP-Air Liquide research team show that combustion in the vicinity of 300 bar pressure and 1000-1400 K temperature allows for relatively high system efficiencies while operating within the limit of practical combustor materials. However, the realization of directly heated supercritical power cycle requires combustion systems be designed to operate in supercritical conditions and at temperature far below the blowout limit of conventional flames (above 1500 K), where not only the thermodynamic properties but also the combustion properties and kinetics are unexplored. To minimize these knowledge gaps, some intermediate pressure ranges (up to 20 bar) are experimented and modeled using a CFD simulation tool. The knowledge obtained from the high pressure test will assist in understanding the combustion chamber pressurization mechanism, ignition and flame behavior at the elevated pressure. This is a systematic first step in testing at higher pressures of 100 and 300 bar pressures. The primary objective of this dissertation is to perform qualitative analysis on oxy-methane combustion at high pressure (< 20 bar) and compare to CFD model for future scale up to supercritical condition. For modeling of the system, a commercial computational fluid dynamics simulation tool, ANSYS Fluent, is used. The inlet conditions for the CFD analysis are obtained from the experiments. The geometry used for the study is same as the test apparatus and operates at the same power ratings. The expertise gained from this experimental study is important to accurately and safely design combustors at elevated pressures up to 300bar. A high pressure methane-oxygen fuel burner and combustor have been developed to accommodate oxy-combustion environment. A detailed CFD analysis is conducted to understand the flame length and cooling phenomenon inside the combustor first at pressures up to 20 bar to compare to experiments then at supercritical pressure. The first part of the dissertation compares CFD results with high pressure burner experiments at pressures up to 20 bar. The test is conducted for 30 s within 150 kW – 250 kW thermal power inputs. Afterwards, based on the simulation results a cooling system is proposed for steady state high pressure combustion experiments. It is observed from the experimental study that the proposed pressurization mechanism able to pressurize the vessel up to 20 bar. It is also determined that the current combustor can operate up to 20 bar for short term. The steady state CFD simulation demonstrates that a cooling system must be incorporated for continuous operation. Additionally, the study focuses on the ignition delay due to added diluent during the combustion process. It is observed that as the carbon dioxide recirculation ratio increases the ignition delay time increases. Later part of the dissertation provides a preliminary guideline for developing a laboratory scale supercritical oxy combustor. The employment of supercritical fluid in gas turbine is fairly a new concept. Hence, there are many questions that need to be answered. During this dissertation study an investigation is performed to understand the impact of equation of state in the supercritical combustion simulation. Finally, a CFD model for developing supercritical oxy-methane burner and the combustor, incorporating real gas model, is presented. Although Lee-Kesler equation of state provides better accuracy than Peng Robinson, due to the computational time Peng Robinson equation of state is used for the simulation. It is found that existing knowledge is not enough to simulate combustion at supercritical phase. Detailed combustion chemistry at the supercritical condition must be developed and should be incorporated to accurately replicate the combustion phenomenon.

Subject Area

Mechanical engineering

Recommended Citation

Chowdhury, Arifur Rahim, "Design and Experimental Study of a High Pressure and Supercritical Methane-Oxygen Burner" (2018). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI10785293.